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Lady Demons to bid farewell to three seniors

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By Matt Birkholtz

When players start their first year on a team, they don’t think about their last game, but for three Williamstown seniors, they will bid a partial farewell Feb. 4 on Senior Night against Bellevue.

Haley Rothwell, Chelsea West and Tori Wilhoit will be honored in pre-game ceremonies with their families.

For the three seniors it is going to be a lot of intense feelings.

“I think it will be really emotional for me,” West said. “I have played with these girls for so long. We start so young and play with the younger girls. You grow up with the same people.”

For Tori and her dad, Lady Demons coach Mark Wilhoit, it will be an even more important night.

“He has been kidding that he isn’t going to talk in front of the crowd, but play a recording of him talking,” she said.

These three girls who play at three guard positions make up the core of the Lady Demons.

Coach Wilhoit knows they will be tough to replace.

“They mean so much to the program,” he said. “The only regret I have is not having Rothwell all four years. All three of them work hard and are leaders. Haley and Chelsea are the vocal leaders and Tori leads by example. There is a lot of play left for them.”

The season hasn’t gone exactly according to plan for coach Wilhoit, but he said playing teams like Walton-Verona can be tough for schools like Williamstown.

“I’m proud of my kids here,” Wilhoit said. “They are homegrown. We don’t have the benefit of transfers like Walton gets, but we are a team that is going to play hard.”

Tori said she is going to try avoid crying, but it didn’t work at the end of volleyball season when she was unable to hold back the tears.

As for the future of the program, West gave some advice to next year’s seniors.

“I think Tori and I have been leaders in different ways,” she said. “I think what they need to be able to do is talk to one another and that is the most important thing for any team.”

How was it to play for your dad?

“It was difficult at the beginning,” Tori said about her dad. “We both are like the same person. At home, I am called “Little Mark” because we act the same and our attitudes are the same. We would clash sometimes at the beginning and argue. It would carry on home too.”

For those who believe Tori only played because her dad was the coach, she says they’re wrong.

“Having that criticism has helped me to push harder,” she said. “Now, they are realizing I am not playing because I am the coach’s daughter.”

All three are not planning on playing collegiately, but will cherish the moments at Williamstown.

“I don’t think that I could play on another team,” West said. “The team is a big reason that I still play basketball. I love the team and the coaches and I love this school. I love basketball, but I just don’t see myself playing for anyone else.”

Tori said she had an offer to play in college, but plans on going to the University of Kentucky to focus on her education.

Following senior night activities, the trio will find themselves back on the court facing Bellevue at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 4.