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It’s been nearly five years since the Williamstown High School boys’ basketball team won a regular-season district game and nearly a decade since the Demons last tasted success in the post-season district tournament.
When discussing the Demons’ struggles against district foes, it’s easy to point at the enrollment figures that show Williamstown out-numbered as much as six-to-one among District 32 schools. But second-year Williamstown head coach Roger Harden is having none of that, insisting that using enrollment numbers to explain away his team’s lack of success at the district level is just an excuse.
“We don’t pay much attention to that,” said Harden about the difference in the number of students at each school in the district. “Although I’m a transplant Kentuckian, I grew up in Indiana so I grew up with small town basketball and realize if you do a few small things here and there, and have kids that are committed, you can go in and beat bigger schools. But we don’t talk about that much because I think that’s nothing more than an excuse to go out and get beat. So we don’t think about that. Instead we are thinking about ways to win.
“When you start out believing we shouldn’t win or can’t win, I think you shouldn’t even play the game,” added Harden.
Williamstown’s last district win came on Feb 6, 2009 at home against Walton-Verona. The Demons’ last district tournament win was on Feb 28, 2005 against Owen County. The last time Williamstown was able to advance from the district tournament into regionals was back in 1998.
But playing in a tough district is par for the course for the Demons, who face the same obstacles against non-district opponents.
“It’s not just our district, but every game we play will be difficult,” said Harden. “But I think that is good. I like that. It will only make us a better team. Our district will always be difficult. Even when we have really good basketball here, the district will still be very tough. But that’s ok. That’s part of the game of basketball. It certainly does not scare me or the guys.
“Losing does not matter to me. It’s the way we lose and the way we compete, that is what concerns me,” continued Harden. “I don’t judge our team on the won-loss record. I judge the team on how well we stayed together and did we get the max out of what we have. If we do, we’ll win our share of games.”
Simon Kenton, which has won seven of the last eight District 32 crowns, comes into the season as the favorites once again. Grant County is the pre-season pick to push Simon Kenton for the title.
Walton-Verona, the only team able to win a district championship since Simon Kenton joined the district, is also a formidable foe.
But to discount Williamstown or overlook the Demons in any way would be a mistake, said Harden.