BRADFORD — The Bradford girls basketball team was named the state’s team of the year on Sunday from a pool of almost 800 girls basketball programs across Ohio.
The Lady Railroaders earned the title of Ohio National Guard JJHuddle Ohio High School Girls Basketball Team of the Year after a nearly month-long fan vote. There were 16 finalists for the award chosen from the nearly 800 girls basketball teams in the state.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Bradford girls basketball coach Patrick McKee said. “Definitely kind of caps off our season. Obviously it was already pretty memorable.”
It was a memorable season as Bradford set a program record by winning 20 games this year. The Lady Railroaders also won their first sectional championship in program history by beating South Charleston Southeastern in four overtimes before losing in the district championship game to eventual state semifinalist Fort Loramie.
“It’s been over for two or three weeks now, and I’m still at a loss for words,” McKee said of his team’s accomplishments this season. “I don’t think the girls realize yet how big of a deal it is.”
To earn the title of team of the year the Railroaders won an online fan vote, which Bradford won by thousands of votes.
Bradford received 12,266 votes in the team of the year voting, beating runner up Reedsville Eastern by 3,445 votes and third-place West Holmes by 8,022 votes. In total there were more than 30,500 votes cast in the competition.
“It really just shows how much our community supports us and backs us up,” McKee said.
The Bradford community showed its support for the Lady Railroaders in February when the team was voted the Ohio National Guard JJHuddle Ohio High School Week 9 Girls Basketball Team of the Week. That time Bradford collected more than 96 percent of the vote with 4,797 votes cast for the Railroaders while second-place Timken received 46 votes in the 10-team competition.
From the beginning of the season the Lady Railroaders knew they had the support of the community, McKee said.
“We saw it right away this year at our first couple games just the number of people coming to our games,” he said.
The girls fed off the excitement of their fans, McKee said, which helped lead them to their record-setting season. The team of the year honor is just the icing on the cake to an already great season, he said.
Bradford will lose five players from this season’s squad to graduation, but McKee said the Railroaders have a lot of up and coming talent who have seen what happens when they put in hard work.
“I know the girls, they’re already chomping at the bit to get back in the gym,” he said.