Wed, Apr 4, 2012 09:19 AM
(Above:The Proctor Varsity Lady Phantoms display their state
championship trophies in Division 4 when they arrive home after
beating #1 seeded Twinfield earlier in the day 61-52, giving PHS
their first varsity girls basketball championship in almost 30
years. Pictured in the team photo are (1st row) Nicole Valach,
Carissa Elrick, Mikayla McCormack, Mikayla Tanner, Megan Carter,
Carly Trombley, (2nd row) Alyssa Valerio, Megan Elrick, Brodie
Langlois, Erin Keefe, McKenzie Hickey, Coach Lisa Hughes, Coach
Chris Hughes. Missing are Riley Coombs and Coach Jacob
This was the magical year where everything seemed to mesh for
the varsity Lady Phantoms. After struggling four years ago with a
1-19 record, coach Chris Hughes was hired and his leadership along
with the growing maturity and skill of the players turned the
program around to become an 18-1 team in 2011. The girls earned a
second seed ranking in the state for division 4 and went on to win
the championship for the first time since 1984.
The road to the championship was a tough journey.
The Phantoms didn't seem to have a problem with their first match
up against Black River winning easily 67-23. Next they faced Blue
Mountain. After a slow start the Lady Phantoms got into their
rhythm in the second half and came away with a 57-46 victory and
earned a trip to Barre Auditorium for a semi-final match up against
long time rival West Rutland. Proctor was able to handle the Golden
Horde and earn a birth into the championship with a 58-41 victory.
On March 17 the Phantoms defeated #1 seeded Twinfield 61-52 with an
impressive display of defense and foul shooting.
By winning the state championship this year Coach Chris Hughes has
accomplished a feat very few coaches have ever done: he has coached
a state championship team at the varsity level for both boys and
girls. Coach Hughes coached the PHS varsity boys team which won the
state championship back in 2000. PHS boys had not won a
championship since 1972, a 28 year drought. That 28 year drought is
exactly the same length of time the PHS girls varsity experienced
Many call Chris Hughes the "Rainmaker" because he put a stop to
both boys and girls championship droughts.
The coaches this year not only directed the girls on the court but
had the girls participate in some off-court activities this year
that helped them not only grow as basketball players, but as
mature, caring and sensitive young ladies. They honored the 1984
Lady Phamtom Championship team on Jan. 7 in front of packed house.
The champs and their coaches, Wade Mitchell and Judy Franzier, were
honored at halftime with flowers, hugs and a 1984 music tribute
during timeouts and quarter breaks.
They also conducted a fundraiser called Lady Phantoms vs. Cancer on
Feb. 28. The girls showed their support for cancer survivors and
current patients by wearing customized purples tee-shirts for warm
ups. Each player and coach collected at least one sponsor for the
fundraiser and the Proctor boosters donated their half of the 50/50
to the cause. The high school also donated $1 of each paid
admission. By the end of the night the generosity of the community
had helped raise $1375 for the American Cancer Society.
Along with the state championship, Proctor was honored and
recognized in many other areas. Coach Chris Hughes was named the
MLV D4 Coach of the year and the State of Vermont D4 Coach of the
Year. The Lady Phantoms won the MVL Division with their 10-0 league
record. Mikayla Tanner and Carissa Elrick were named to the All MVL
1st Team and Mikayla McCormack and Megan Carter were named to the
All MVL 2nd Team. The North South All State Player Representatives
were Mikayla Tanner and Mikayla McCormack. Carissa Elrick was also
named to the All Under Classman Dream Team. Congratulations to
Coach Chris Hughes was nice enough to answer some questions about
himself, his coaching experience and what he thought needed to be
done this year to win the championship.
Q&A with Coach Chris Hughes
How long have you been coaching the proctor girls basketball
I have been coaching the Proctor varsity girls for three years.
They were 1-19 the year before. Our first year we won seven games,
our second year we won 10 games and then this year we won 22 games
Did you play the basketball in high school?
Yes, I played for Proctor High School graduation class of 1984, the
same year his classmates won the only girl state championship to
What was the difference this season that made you think you had
a very good chance at the state championship? What was the team
Experience and maturity. The girls were very athletic, we were able
to run the floor and use the athletic ability we had. We went very
deep in our lineup utilizing our 11 players in most of the games. A
huge advantage was our team chemistry. It evolved to the point of
our team being completely in this quest together (us coaches had
been working on this "together chemistry" for three years and this
group absolutely came together to make this season as magical as it
was.) The team had team dinners together, encouraged each other in
good times and in times of struggle… each and every player needed
to know that they were supported by players and coaches, each and
every practice and game.
What was your game plan going into the championship. What did
the team have to do to win against the #1 seed?
Gameplan: we wanted to make Twinfield very uncomfortable, we
thought with our man-to-man defense, they'd have a problem. They
seemed to be used to having their way on offense and we weren't
going to let that happen.
On offense, we wanted to go inside and put a lot of pressure on
their interior defense. We wanted to get the ball to Tanner, Carter
and McCormack inside as much as possible. We scouted Twinfield and
our girls (most of them) knew how to win a championship already,
being part of this past fall's D4 soccer championship, so we had to
come in and play relaxed and confident. (We had a very fun and
energetic Premier Bus trip to Barre for the finals... our girls
were dancing and singing and really being lose and having fun…that
was important to us.)
Can you give me your thoughts on the game and what you thought
I think we played very confidently and ran the floor really well, I
especially think our captains and seniors Mikayla Tanner and
Mikayla McCormack were true leaders in that effort. They played
like seniors and captains that they are. We continued, right to the
end of the game, to play to win and not play 'not to lose'. We went
at it strong and hard and knew "we go hard, or we go home."