Middle school basketball team finishes unforgettable season

DAVIDSVILLE -- The Conemaugh Township Middle school basketball team did not win a championship this season, or even qualify for the playoffs.

Still, Geneve Tessari's squad just finished a season they say they'll never forget.

For Tessari, a first-year basketball coach, the focus is on the fundamentals. When she took the job in Davidsville the first thing she did was add some inspiration to her new office.

"This sign was given to me as a gift," Tessari says, pointing to a picture on her office wall.

"This sign is very important to me. It says, 'be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.'"

For Tessari, that somebody happens to be on her very first team.

"She heard her talking and she said, 'I'd love to have Tia,'" Jen Cook says.

Born with some physical challenges, Tia Cook hasn't had it easy. But in this community, she is on a level playing field. Under Tessari's guidance, this middle school team has welcomed Cook into the program.

"They always cheer for me, and they're so supportive," Tia Cook says.

In the final game of the regular season, a loss to Shade, Cook scored four points.

"We've had not that great of a season but we turned it into making it fun and making memories," teammate Chloe Shaulis says.

These seventh graders say they hope to one day play for the high school team. Thanks to a wise coach, and a teammate named Tia, they've already learned the basics.

"One of the things we wanted to get across is no matter who you are, you can always be part of this team," assistant coach Kayla Luprek says.

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