There are at least 11 reasons why Taylor Goode said she believes the St. Anthony's girls basketball team's loss in Friday night's CHSAA Class AA state semifinal could benefit the group next season.
Eleven of the Friars' 12 players, including Goode and the team's four other starters Friday night, are non-seniors, so they all could return.
Latest HS sports stories
"This actually was a good experience, in a way," Goode said after the visiting Friars suffered a 63-50 loss to Christ the King. "We're all young, so we can take this experience for what it is. We're all already hungry for next season."
Goode led the Friars with 23 points. Jayla Jones-Pack, the team's starting center, and Etalyia Vogt, who started at point guard, each picked up her fourth foul early in the third quarter and finished with eight points apiece.
St. Anthony's (19-7) won the state championship last season, but the five starters from that team graduated. This year's crop of players spent the majority of last season on the bench. Despite some inconsistencies early on, St. Anthony's coach Ken Parham said the group played pretty well.
"There have been some ups and downs," Parham said. "It all comes with having a younger group."
Parham said there were three things the inexperienced Friars hadn't always done early in the season, but improved as the season went on.
They didn't always play hard, Parham said. They didn't always play together. And they didn't always play smart.
Despite losing, the Friars did all those things for a good portion of the game -- even late and while trailing by a large margin.
Goode, for example, chased after a loose ball with 3.4 seconds left and the Friars trailing by 15. She then went hard to the basket to score a layup as time expired.
"I just told the team that we had nothing to lose at that point," Goode said, "so I said we should just keep giving it our all."
The Royals (20-6), who carry four seniors and several battle-tested juniors, were just too experienced and too good. Sydney Zambrotta scored 21 points and Dominique Toussant added 20.
The Royals took the lead for good late in the second quarter and led 33-23 at halftime. They ended the third period on a 10-4 run and led by at least 13 points throughout the fourth quarter.
"This motivates us to come back stronger," Goode said. "We'll be working harder for next season."