From the very first game, the Forbes Road girls basketball team has had the odds against it. With a few difficult years under its belt, and just six players on the roster, the Cardinals were written off by many Sideling Hill League/Inter-County Conference opponents.
But their fans never had a doubt.
Last week, Forbes Road climbed back to .500 as the countdown to the District 5 cutoff started ticking louder, thanks in part to a three-win week with senior Mina Wilt at the helm.
In the Cardinals' three important wins last week, Wilt scored 42 total points, including a double-double against Belleville Mennonite, to earn Public Opinion Female Athlete of the Week honors.
"I really think this week boosted our confidence a lot," Wilt said. "I know us as players doubt ourselves, but our fans and our coaches tell us that we can. I doubt myself a lot, and if I didn't have that reassurance I don't know if I could do it."
Wilt said that it helps that her dad and boyfriend attend all of her games.
"The support we have behind us is unbelievable; we just want to make everyone proud. I think that's why we work so hard," Wilt said. "I think it would be awesome if we would make the playoffs and we would win, that would blow my mind and would make my year, with only six people.
After falling to 5-8 with a four-game losing skid, Forbes Road turned it around with Sideling Hill League wins over Chestnut Ridge and Fannett-Metal (also Inter-County Conference), and with a non-league win over Belleville Mennonite last week.
Wilt contributed 15 points each against Chestnut Ridge and Belleville, and added a double-double against the Trojans with 10 assists. She also scored 12 points against Fannett-Metal.
"She's a very good defensive player and she makes a lot of things happen," Forbes Road coach Jeff Gelvin said. "She's fairly quick and very aggressive. Taking the ball to the basket is probably her strong point. We moved her to the high post and she's really helped us there."
With just six players on the roster, any contribution is key, and while Wilt has been teetering on double-figure averages for most of the season, this week advanced her to more than 10 points per game.
"I really have high hopes for our team," Wilt said. "I think we work really well together and we all contribute things that are really important. Everyone has something they are really good at and I think that is so cool."
But with two weeks left in the regular season, Forbes Road is not done yet.
"Every game now is like a playoff game," Gelvin said. "I keep telling the girls, we have to keep winning, but they don't seem tight at all. They are relaxed and ready to play."
Mina Wilt, Forbes Road
Parents: Joe Wilt and Renea Kendall
Other interests: Wilt is a part of FBLA, NHS and Student Council at Forbes Road.
Surprising fact: She drinks a lot of chocolate milk before every game, citing its supposed energy-boosting power. She prefers Ritchey's chocolate milk.
Athlete most admired: Brittney Griner
Statistics: Wilt aided the Cardinals in a three-game winning streak this week to propel the team back to .500 ... She scored 15 points against Chestnut Ridge and Belleville Mennonite and added 12 against Fannett-Metal ... Wilt also earned a double-double against Belleville, adding 10 rebounds.