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Epilogue as prologue

Eldred Coach Ryan Jasper counsels his team during a late time out.

By Richard A Ross
March 18, 2015

NEWBURGH, NY — The gym at Mount St. Mary College was strangely quiet and nearly empty. Still on hand were the loving parents and friends of the remarkable Eldred Lady Yellowjackets, as the team remained in the locker room listening to the comforting and affirming words of their coach Ryan Jasper. Their season and hoped-for return to the state Final Four had been obviated by a stinging 54-45 loss to Section Four’s undefeated Lady Rams of South Kortright. For Eldred, which had played an uncharacteristically off-kilter first half, to have come back and tied the game at 43-all with just 1:47 remaining on Jordan Lepes’ back-to-back three-pointers, only to have the game slip away and end their glorious ride, the impact was heart-rending. At the same time, both the season’s fine run and this tough loss would provide the impetus to restart the quest aimed at an entirely different outcome 366 days hence. With no seniors in the fold, Eldred, which ended its season at 16-4, will reload with a vengeance.
Life is a learning curve, and as NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul Jabbar once noted, “You cannot learn to win until you learn how to lose.” Losses were few for this talented team as they fell only to Class C Pine Plains, now the only Section IX team bound for the Final Four, Class C Tuxedo, Class A Port Jervis and 24-0 South Kortright. Eldred’s sole state glory dates back to its 1988 undefeated season and state title propelled by the incomparable Tammi Reiss. The Lady Yellowjackets haven’t won a state round game since. This year they had hoped to break the drought.