BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) - After a disappointing finish to the 2018-19 season, Woodrow Wilson girls basketball set a few goals headed into 2019-20.
Well, really just one goal.
"The main goal, like coach said, was the championship," said senior Liz Cadle. "We underachieved, so we were just very motivated to accomplish all the things we didn't accomplish last year."
"Really just to give it everything we had, everyday until we got to the championship," echoed fellow senior Victoria Staunton.
"Looking at that roster, I was very, very confident that we could get it done this year," admitted head coach Brian Nabors.
That confidence grew when some of his players approached him about getting in their team workouts -- at 4:30 a.m.
"If another team wasn't doing it, we wanted to be doing it," Cadle answered.
"That's what it takes, you know," Staunton said.
All that hard work paid off early on in the season. The Lady Flying Eagles dropped just two games through the first two months of the season.
"We had a statement to make that we were one of the best teams in the state," Staunton said. "Every team we played wasn't better than us. It just took us going out and showing it."
"Even if something wasn't going good for us, we just -- like coach said -- we didn't back down ever," Cadle said. "We always kept fighting and playing hard."
Heading into a February 11 matchup with sectional foe Greenbrier East, the team had just three losses. Beckley was trailing by six points in the fourth quarter, when an incident broke out behind their bench.
The commotion halted the game and resulted in the suspension of both of the team's seniors. Cadle, Staunton and three of their teammates were given a two-game suspension by the WVSSAC.
"It did something to me," Cadle admitted. "It motivated me deep, because when we found out we were in school."
The girls returned to the team about a week later. But, in that short time, they had changed.
"I thought they were better players mentally, physically, emotionally," Nabors recalled. "They knew from that point on that we had something to prove."
And it wasn't just the returning five players that found a renewed purpose, but each and every one of the program's 17 players.
"The way they stepped up whenever we couldn't play, we could just see it in them that they had that same fire too," Staunton remembered. "It had given them that motivation as well."
Despite a loss to South Charleston, late February saw Beckley play its best basketball of the season. They dominated Greenbrier East in the sectional championship, 78-55. A few days later, the team punched its ticket to Charleston with a 62-44 victory over George Washington.
"We weren't going to let anything get in our way," Cadle said. "We were gonna give everything we had and just play as hard as we could because this was our last chance."
"I just knew -- once we get there the sky is the limit," Nabors added. "We had just as good enough shot as anybody in the state."
Their state quarterfinal matchup was a regular season rematch against Morgantown. The Mohigans tried to throw a zone defense at the Lady Flying Ealges, but it cracked. Beckley soared to a 44-37 win.
"They just did exactly what we practiced," Nabors said. "They just did a good job sticking to the gameplan."
The coaches were beginning to draw up a gameplan for either Martinsburg or Greenbrier East when they heard the news.
"I just remember being in disbelief," Staunton recalled. "Almost like kinda in a standstill."
"My heart just dropped from then on," added Nabors. "We brought the whole team in and all I can remember is disappointment ... that's all I see now."
"We just wanted to play, you know," Cadle said. "To have that chance -- to win."
This team won't get that chance.
But, these two seniors will walk away knowing that they helped put Beckley girls basketball back on the map. And in the process, they created memories that will last a lifetime.
"You senior season is supposed to be your best season, and I'm not regretting anything," Cadle said.
"I'm thankful for all the opportunities -- being able to score 1,000 points and all the good things that came out of this season," Staunton reflected. "I'm just thankful for that. I look back at those moments and it gives me that happiness -- I guess."