DYER BROOK, Me. (WAGM) - Raising the gold ball is the ultimate achievement in Maine high school basketball. The apex of an athlete's hard work and dedication. The Southern Aroostook Warriors reached their goal of winning a state championship last season and they returned almost all of the players from that team. If anyone thought they'd have a letdown this season, well, the Warriors head into the tournament as the top seed in Class D and they have a very interesting way of keeping each other motivated.
"We have to pick an object before every game and use it to symbolize the team, so I picked a book," Junior Makaelyn Porter said.
Porter one of the team's top scorers, the book represented:
"I talked about our story, winning a gold ball and how good that felt and how we climbed the mountain to get there," Porter said. "At the start of this year we got knocked back down the mountain with everybody else and we have to climb it again this year and get back to the top."
Coach Cliff Urquhart's method of motivation began four years ago, it started with finding a motivational video or quote and has evolved to finding an object.
"It's helped to inspire us and you know just add a different element of keeping them up to tune when it comes to some of these challenges that lay ahead," Urquhart said.
Southern Aroostook has already encountered and overcome a few challenges this year. Early in the season, they lost to Madawaska and Central Aroostook, but when they saw them again it was a different result on the scoreboard.
Losing to those teams definitely gave us motivation to go harder in practice and in games for each and every game not only just the most important ones," Junior forward Sydney Brewer said. "After winning those [games] it definitely gave us an extra step going into the tournament."
To Coach Urquhart it's just another mode of motivation.
"Losing games aren't the worst thing in the world," Urquhart said. "We lost two last year as well and things resonate a little bit more when you lose, the focus is better the next day, the next two days, the next week."
It really is all about the big MO for the Warriors because if they're telling the story about this team during a pregame next year, they want it to be about how they climbed the mountain and reached the top again.