Imagine how Tyrone Hoard felt on Friday.
The Rogers girls basketball coach talked like a gorilla-sized burden had been lifted off his shoulders.
The night before, Rogers snapped a 129-game losing streak in the Greater Spokane League with a 59-52 victory over North Central.
It was the first time in Hoard’s seven-year term that the Pirates won a league game. He was an assistant coach the last time Rogers won – Jan. 23, 2007, when the Pirates beat NC 35-26. He took over as head coach the next season.
Students rushed the floor when the horn sounded Thursday, and the Pirates relished the moment. Hoard had to choke back tears.
“I held it together pretty good until we got to the locker room for our postgame talk,” Hoard said. “That’s when I lost it, especially when I looked at all my seniors.”
The game had a familiar start for the Pirates. NC opened an 8-0 lead, but Rogers fought back within 14-13 by quarter’s end.
The one-point margin held through halftime. In the third quarter, Rogers got things rolling, opening a 42-34 lead.
The Pirates withstood NC in the final period.
All 12 players on the roster played.
“All of them contributed something,” Hoard said.
Coming into the season, Hoard’s teams were 0-108 in league. All but four of the setbacks in the streak have come on his watch. His overall record is 4-136.
He took a moment to remember back to his first season.
“It’s been a total rebuilding process,” Hoard said. “It was ground zero when I took over. I had kids who had never played on an organized basketball team, let alone ever played in the GSL on varsity.”
Hoard hopes his returning girls use the win as a springboard into a committed offseason.
“More and more of our kids have been playing AAU and in the summer league,” Hoard said. “We’re changing the culture here. When I took over I thought it could take 10 years to change it. I could have quit and jumped ship.”
Rogers came up a win short of qualifying for the postseason. Hoard said there were four other league games in which the Pirates were particularly competitive.
“This has been our most competitive season,” he said. “All of the kids have been coming up to me today (Friday) asking me, ‘When are we starting summer workouts?’ ” This has revitalized and reaffirmed things for our kids.”
Hoard said before this season he never used the word “win” in conversations about league games.
“I just talked about competing as hard as you can and good things will happen,” Hoard said. “This year we turned the corner. I told them they needed to believe in themselves. I told them they should expect to win – that that should be their mentality. We took our bumps and still got whupped a few times, but it’s been great.”
Hoard believes the future is bright. Although he loses seven players, three starters and two reserves with experience can return. He said the junior varsity team was competitive and the freshman team was 8-12.
Through the drought Hoard is thankful that there’s been plenty of support – especially in the GSL coaching fraternity.
“A lot of coaches around the area have been very supportive,” Hoard said. “It’s been a long ride with these kids.”
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