ARLINGTON -- With more than half of the Arlington Memorial High School girls basketball team either freshmen or sophomores, the Eagles don’t have a wealth of big-game experience.
But if the Eagles have any questions about what it feels like to be in that spot, all they have to do is look to their bench.
First-year assistant coach Ashley Hoyt is a 2008 Arlington graduate. She reached the Barre Auditorium four years in a row and won a Division III championship as a freshman in 2005, the last time the Eagles raised the crown. Fourth in Arlington history with 1,330 career points, she also played on two NCAA tournament teams at the University of Vermont in 2008 and 2009.
"I have lot of experience in Vermont high school basketball and going to the NCAA tournament was the same thing," said Hoyt on Friday during Arlington’s final practice before Saturday’s Division IV final against Proctor. "I give all my girls the player perspective I had. I take all the coaching I received and put it in a way the players can relate to."
She’s also experienced disappointment at the Barre Auditorium, which gives her a unique perspective. After being a part of the Eagles’ 2005 title run, the team made three more semifinal appearances, losing them all.
"I told [senior] Rayleen [Sherman], have no regrets when you leave this place," Hoyt said of the trip to Barre. "Knowing you could have done better, I still live with that."
"I don’t want them to and so far they haven’t had that problem," Hoyt said.
Sherman, in her final game for the Eagles, said she takes Hoyt’s guidance to heart.
"She tells us we don’t get this stuff back, that it could be the last final, so you have to work hard," Sherman said. "She gives us a ton of motivation, makes us push and that’s a big reason why we’re here Saturday. She has a passion for the game."
Hoyt said she’s thrilled for the chance to lead the Eagles back to the top of Division IV.
"I’m excited, I want to put the other three losses to rest," Hoyt said. "It’s exciting to play for a championship and I’m looking forward to it."