Mt. Pleasant’s girls basketball team was one win away from earning a section title. But as the last seconds of this game ticked off the clock on Dec. 17, Julea Claycomb’s buzzer-beater resulted in a 52-50 upset win for Southmoreland, ending the Vikings’ title hopes.
With a section title in sight, Mount Pleasant’s undefeated girls soccer team arrived at Russ Grimm Field on Oct. 7 to face Southmoreland’s girls soccer team. But a 1-0 Scottie victory ended Mount Pleasant’s perfect season. The Vikings still won the section – but Southmoreland claimed a moral victory.
Mount Pleasant’s boys soccer team was also on the brink of winning a section championship. The team needed a victory over Southmoreland on Oct. 15 to earn the title. But Southmoreland’s Dylan Willard scored the game’s only goal in the second half of the game, resulting in a 1-0 Scottie victory and the first triumph over the Vikings for the Scottie boys soccer team in over four years.
In 2014, Mt. Pleasant’s boys golf team won the section championship. But Southmoreland prevented the Vikings from repeating this achievement by beating the Vikings twice in one season.With Mt. Pleasant eliminated as competition, the boys golf team won the section championship for Southmoreland for the first time in 30 years.
Southmoreland has played the role of spoiler numerous times this year in athletic contests against Mt. Pleasant and has taken away the Vikings’ section title hopes and undefeated season records. Although Mt. Pleasant is often perceived as the “athletically superior” school to their local rivals, Southmoreland, the truth is in the numbers. Out of the 22 athletic contests between the rivaling schools during the current school year, the victories were divided evenly between Southmoreland and Mt. Pleasant.
“The tables are turning,” said Southmoreland’s athletic director Charlie Swink. “There’s no more going into a game with the mindset that we’re going to lose. We’re becoming an extremely competitive team, especially in basketball.”
This is the second consecutive year that the Southmoreland boys basketball team has made it to the playoffs and beat Mt. Pleasant with at least a 15-point score margin. The largest margin of victory was a 63-21 blowout for the Scotties on their home court this season.
“No matter what sport it is, there is always trash talking and an intense environment any time we play Mt. Pleasant,” said sophomore basketball player Brandon Stone. “Beating them is one of the best feelings, especially when it’s by over 40 points.”
Oftentimes, these Southmoreland basketball wins result in a tired “Let’s play football” chant from the Mt. Pleasant student section. Mt. Pleasant has routinely triumphed over Southmoreland on the football field, this year etching a 50-3 win. However, both of Southmoreland’s soccer teams hindered Mt. Pleasant’s chances of earning a section title on that same field, Russ Grimm Field.
Not a single member of the 2015-2016 SHS boys soccer team had defeated Mt. Pleasant in their varsity careers, and they had already lost to Mt. Pleasant going into the home game. Southmoreland’s girls soccer team didn’t have an undefeated record like Mt. Pleasant going into their game. No one was anticipating either of Southmoreland’s soccer teams defeating Mt. Pleasant, let alone be responsible for taking away their rivals opportunity to be section champs.
“After losing in overtime for the past three years, it felt amazing to beat Mt. Pleasant,” said senior Stephen Ozoroski. “It was such a competitive game and we all really wanted a win, especially the seniors.”
Another Southmoreland senior, Julea Claycomb, also made an unforgettable memory during her final seconds on her home basketball court against Mt. Pleasant. The Scotties came back from halftime down by double digits but fought back to forge a tie in the fourth quarter. Claycomb claimed the win for Southmoreland with a basket at the buzzer. This was the Scotties’ first win over Mt. Pleasant since the 2006-2007 basketball season.
“I think everyone jumped out of their seats and ran onto the floor; I know I did,” said the SHS girls varsity basketball coach Mr. Brian Pritts. “It was a great way to end the game and well worth the celebration.”
Football, basketball, and even soccer are frequently the only sports considered by the public when determining the athletically superior school. And at Mt. Pleasant, it seems that only football matters with countless boasting tweets after football games and next to nothing after basketball games against the Scotties. In reality, these three sports only account for 9 of the 22 times that the two rivaling schools compete with one another.
The focus on select sports results in the general perception based on a twitter poll in which Mt. Pleasant and Southmoreland students voted (to the right) that Mt. Pleasant has better athletics than their rivals at SHS.
However, Southmoreland defeated Mt. Pleasant on the track in both boys and girls this season, and the Scotties fought for a 39-33 win on the wrestling mat. People tend to ignore these generally “unpopular” spectator sports, but they are still included in a count of athletic contests. Although Southmoreland normally beats Mt. Pleasant in boys track, they hadn’t defeated Mt. Pleasants’ girls and boys track teams both since 2007 until this season. The boys team outran Mt. Pleasant with a 95-55 victory and the girls obtained a satisfying 82-68 win.
“Competing with Mt. Pleasant gets our athletes even more motivated,” said head track coach Mr. Dave Keefer. “It’s a great rivalry because of the athletic competitiveness across the board.”
To even the count, Mount Pleasant defeated Southmoreland in both girls and boys tennis as well as baseball. While both tennis matches resulted in a shutout, the individual matches were grueling and went into tie breakers for the girls.
“I think a lot of us psych ourselves out when it comes to Mt. Pleasant because they’re talked up so much,” said senior athlete Samantha Lauffer. “But we’re very capable of competing with them.”
The SHS boys golf team had a great season this year and was named the 2015 section champs, a title that had previously belonged to the Mt. Pleasant golf team. The girls golf matches were close on both courses, but Mt. Pleasant was able to defeat Southmoreland with scores of 211-207 and 213-187.
Mt. Pleasant and Southmoreland split victories in softball with two close games. On April 26, the Scotties defeated the Vikings 9-7, guaranteeing them a second place spot in the playoffs. This game also resulted in Mt. Pleasant possessing the third place spot. The two rivaling teams could potentially play each other in the second round of playoffs.
“If we continue to improve and succeed as individuals,” said senior softball player Briana Bunner, “then we will only get better as a team and succeed together.”
Many Southmoreland athletes describe a win over Mt. Pleasant as “exhilarating” and “one of the best feelings” because of the lasting rivalry. In recent years, Southmoreland has broken losing streaks against Mt. Pleasant and evened the score despite the perception that Mt. Pleasant has better athletic teams. Student athletes at Southmoreland take pride in their athletics and are also proud of the six graduating seniors that will be continuing their athletic careers at a collegiate level.
The perception that Mt. Pleasant is athletically superior to Southmoreland is fading. If it’s not a one-year fad, that perception could be the beginning of the end of such a perception.
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