He said it at the beginning of the season, and he said it again Saturday night. For West Forsyth girls basketball coach David May, his plot-twisting return to West, after briefly preparing to become the head coach at Collins Hill, was about the group of players he was leaving behind.
His insistence on never uttering a word about himself can only be neutralized by his players, and after West's 57-49 victory over a pesky Northview team to take the Region 6-AAAAAA championship in front of a capacity crowd at Lambert High School, his seniors couldn't thank him enough.
“We, honestly, couldn't have done this without him,” senior Jane Ortlip said.
Since the school opened in 2007, West had not won a region championship in girls basketball until the final buzzer sounded on Saturday. For a team chalk full of seniors, it's an achievement they gleamed with joy over—to be the first to do it, and leave a legacy, even Staiti wasn't nearly jaded.
“This feels amazing,” Staiti, who scored 35 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, said. “It almost doesn't feel real. To think of all the hard work we put in this season, everything we went through, to see it all pay off feels so great.”
“To be honest, I'm really happy for the kids,” May said. “They put so much time into the offseason, then during the season put up with us coaches and the work we put them through, so to see that rewarded and a goal achieved, it's eveyrthing. Something we kind of have been chasing for a few years. I'm excited for our group of seniors. They're a great group, a fun group, and I couldn't be happier for them.”
West was challenged by a young, but talented Northview squad. The Lady Titans had post-wing hybrids in Shannon Titus and Ashlee Austin who caused problems for other teams in the tournament, and that duo still produced 26 points, combined, against the Lady Wolverines' defense.
It was the only negative of the game, for May: “We didn't play well defensively. We need to do better on Tuesday if we're going to beat Mill Creek.”
Still, West put in a total team effort. Ortlip knocked down three 3-pointers and totaled 14 points, while guards Hayla Seitz and Carsen Parker were scrappy throughout the game. Kalie Schlegal and Brooke Pirkle also both hit two big time field goals.
Staiti's performance wasn't a surprise, but her 12-for-12 line from the charity stripe made the difference in the game. As well, Seitz was honored on the all-region team, after the game, to her surprise.
“I was pretty shocked,” Seitz, another senior, said.
“(Hayla) does all the scrappy stuff you want players to do,” May said. “She deserves that. There's times she's six inches shorter and she comes away with rebounds. She's what we want our team to be about.”
West, 18-6 and 15-2 in region play going into the tournament, will be the lone Forsyth team in the state playoffs after South, North, and Lambert were surprisingly knocked out in the early rounds.