WELLSVILLE When one is looking for leadership on any high school sports team, it's usually expected to be found within that team's core of senior players.
But where does leadership come from when there are no seniors on a team?
For Wellsville, it's whoever feels the most vocal at any crucial point of the season.
"Anyone can step up and say anything," junior Nate Scott said. "We're all listening."
It's become an everyday practice for the Tigers, currently 21-3 and preparing for its Division IV district championship against Youngstown Christian. With no seniors within their nucleus of everyday players and veteran presences, improvement must come along with maturity.
"We have to stay on them," Wellsville coach David Thompson said. "But they get on each other, too. That's the difference from last year. They want to improve."
Last year, Wellsville fell, 63-50, to Mogadore in the district championship. In order to avoid a very similar fate this year, the Tigers knew there would have to be internal improvements.
"They've really grown up," Thompson said. "We struggled on the road last year, but we managed to play consistently this year. Most of these guys are two-year starters."
Both Scott and fellow junior Camden Douglas are two-year starters who gained valuable playing experience during their underclassmen years. Those experiences include last year's loss in districts, a memory neither player wishes to revisit.
"Our nerves got the best of us last year," Douglas said. "I feel we're definitely more focused this year."
"We got to know what it feels like last year," Scott said. "But I think that experience has helped us this year. It's much more calm around here now."
One of the benefits of an experienced squad is that consistent results become expected. Having won ten games in a row entering their district final, Wellsville feels that they have made the minor tweaks to polish themselves and find their highest potential.
"Most of it's things like better help defense," Scott said. "I feel like we've really started to come together during this streak."
It's become one of the hallmarks of a team that, despite having no seniors, has matured with the high amount of playing time they've gotten as freshmen and sophomores.
"We just need to help each other out," Douglas said. "We've been playing with each other for a while now."
Wellsville will face Youngstown Christian at 7 p.m. today at the Struthers Fieldhouse.