Katie Getty, one of just two seniors on the Allegany High School girls basketball team (her sister Elizabeth is the other senior), said last summer the Lady Campers would be at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in March to play in the Maryland state basketball tournament. If you know Katie Getty, you know if she tells you the moon is made out of green cheese she is going to do everything in her power to make sure you know she's right.

Couldn't tell you about the moon, that's for sure, but one thing is certain: the Allegany girls open state tournament play today, 5 p.m., against Surrattsville at UMBC's RAC Arena. Katie Getty did all she could do to make sure of it. So did her sister, Elizabeth. So did DeTonia DeGross, and Brianna Twigg, and Jenna Mathews, and Leah Wormack, and Brooke Wharton, and Kelly Baker, and Kelsey Knippenberg.

At the end of the regular season, Alco coach Jim O'Neal brought junior varsity players Jade Washington, Bailey Ellsworth and Audrey Eisentrout to the varsity for the playoffs, and they did everything they were asked to do as well, and what do you know? After today's 9:45 a.m. send-off, either in front of Allegany High School or in the gymnasium, depending on the weather, the Lady Campers will be on their way to play in the state tournament.

Who would have believed it? Well, the Allegany Lady Campers, that's who. They refused to believe otherwise. They wouldn't be denied.

This has been a team that has come together and stuck together, through thick and thin. Of course, when you look at a team's record and it's 23-3, you probably ask yourself, "Just how many challenging times could they have faced?" Well, the Allegany girls have faced plenty of them this season, beginning with all of the natural challenges that come with being a team year-round and seeing your teammates, more often than not, more than you see your own family.

Of course, that's just a rule of thumb. If you see a very good team, such as Allegany is, you understand the players on the team have spent more time with each other, on and off the court, than they do with their own from home.

Aside from that, there have been other things. DeGross, the point guard, is not only the team's best player, she's the team's engine. She dictates tempo of every Allegany game. She gets the ball to the right people at the right times. She penetrates the lane to open the perimeter for the outside shots Twigg dropped home in Saturday's 54-47 West Region championship win over Poolesville. She guards the other team's best guard. She gets the big rebound as well as every loose ball, seemingly being on the floor as much as she's on her feet.

That she is able to do all of these things as well as she does, night-in and night-out, is impressive. What is remarkable is she's doing all of these things at 5 feet 2 inches tall and playing with a heavily bandaged right thumb that might be better left bandaged until once the season is over and she has time to have it tended to.

We mentioned there are only two seniors on the Allegany team, right? So what we have here is a team of two seniors and the rest underclassmen playing for a state championship this week. That says a lot about the type of players that make up this team. It says plenty more about how the upperclassmen - both of them - have been able to help them get this far.

Other challenges Allegany has faced have come from outside forces, which, of course, are out of the Campers' hands until they are forced to deal with them. Who knew Twigg would come down with strep throat just as the playoffs were beginning? Why should anyone imagine any team should have to deal with being subjected to some of the garbage that has been thrown this Allegany team's way by despicable beings that have no business whatsoever crawling out from beneath their swamp rocks to begin with? How are these cretins even allowed to set foot on a school's property?

So you see, this hasn't been a walk in the park for Allegany's girls basketball team. But you know something? All of it - the bumps in the road any team faces through the course of a season, and the bumps in the road no team should ever have to face - has helped this Allegany team build a resolve that whatever happens to one of them, happens to all of them. And when they help each other through it, they'll be the ones having the last laugh together.

There's only one agenda for these Campers, and that agenda is each other. You saw that last Saturday at Frostburg State when Allegany, heavy in foul trouble, was trailing by 12 and had made just three field goals through the first 18 minutes and 28 seconds of a 32-minute game.

The bench immediately contributed, buying time for the Campers to get the foul situation in check. They found their feet to play defense the way they know they are supposed to play it. They found their shooting touch to regain their offense, and in just 4:26 of game time, they were back on top and on their way to the state tournament.

Not once did you see panic in their eyes, or a hurry in their step. Not once did you doubt them, because you could see they never doubt themselves.

No sense starting now.

Contact Mike Burke at mburke@times-news.com.

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