An overtime loss at the Class 4A girls basketball Final 4 was not the way coach Alan Gibson was hoping the season would end for Berthoud.
A 24-3 season had been a remarkable one and Gibson felt that he and his team were loved by the community and that community stood by them for every minute of those 27 games. In the coming months, however, the Berthoud community turned out to be the one in need.
The least Gibson and his girls could do is lend a hand while still trying to maintain form on the basketball court. The COVID-19 pandemic had started weakening the resources in the area with the local food bank being one of the hardest getting hit.
The Spartans were happy help.
"As we continued on with the situation we're currently in and seeing how it affected people, we decided to find a way for our girls to help out the community," Gibson said. "We were lucky enough to play three playoff games at home and the way the community helped and encouraged us, it was just a way for us to say thank you and give back at a time when some of our community members were struggling and hurting."
The players reached out to the community and asked for item and cash donations to help the food bank recover. They asked with an added incentive. For each item or dollar donated, each player would shoot a free throw. When the donation deadline came, there 850 items or dollars collected by the team.
Meaning the 20 participating girls in the program each shot 850 free throws over the course of a week. It was their way of both supporting those who had supported them while improving their basketball skills at the same time.
Free throws tend to be just free throws, but given the overall situation, the girls felt that shot had added importance given the situation.
"We were giving others food they didn't have," junior Breanna Fowler said. "By giving that to other people, we had a connection with them and those free throws meant a lot to us and to those people."
The players didn't each shoot 850 in a straight shot. They spaced them out over the course of a week which averaged out to about 170 free throws a day for five days.
After feeling some nerves at first Fowler said she and the girls settled in and completed their task.
"At the end of the week there were over 15,000 free throws shot," Gibson said. "Over 11,000 were made so we were hovering in the 72 percent range."
This past season, the varsity team shot 66 percent from the free throw line. When it came to helping their community, they were determined to do better and they did just that.
It was the least they could do to show appreciation for the same people who made sure to support them through the regular season and all through the state tournament.
"We all jumped on it as soon as possible," Fowler said. "It was a way to give to other people and we thought it was a great idea to do so."