Chemistry: A little bit of this, a little bit of that

A pinch of this.

A dash of that.

A drop of this.

A sprinkle of that.

A hint of this.

A tinge of that.

Take something from any one of the 118 atomic numbers – from hydrogen to ununoctium – from any of the periods, from any of the groups, and see what you come up with.

It’s, you know, chemistry.

And, thanks to the guy next to me my junior year, it’s a class I luckily passed.

It is also something needed, required even, if your athletic team is going to make a postseason run.

It is virtually impossible for bad chemistry to equal great outcomes.

Kind of like hydrogen sulfide.

The Weirton Madonna girls’ basketball team had it and leading the way were the trio of seniors – Monica Bragg, Katie Lammers and Mikaela Lenhart.

Head coach Don Ogden had told me for months this team was kind of like no other he had coached.

It was different.

For one thing, it was the first team in three years with seniors.

“Already, the chemistry of this team is fantastic,” Ogden said to Ralph Cox in the preview edition of Dec. 4. “The girls all get along with each other and all are competing for a common goal – winning basketball. And, they’re having fun while doing it.”

This senior group started as 11 as freshmen.

But, that’s not unusual in high school athletics.

What is unusual is the early chemistry with a team that had six freshmen – Andrea Alimario, Rachel Boniti, Gabriella Staffileno, Gia Fuscardo, Gia Riccadonna and Sabrina Alatis.

That just doesn’t happen.

But, what the freshmen brought to the table was an undefeated eighth-grade year and a league championship.

Sandwiched between the seniors and freshmen were two players – sophomore Kasey Canei and junior Samantha Parris.

Canei saw a lot of time as a freshman.

Through many discussions, Ogden kept raving behind the scenes on the chemistry and how the seniors had taken the freshmen under their wings – mother hens, you might say.

“They went out for breakfast, went to movies, they did a lot of things together as a team,” Ogden told me on multiple occasions.

While all this was great, the Blue Dons were 5-6 after a Jan. 9 loss to St. Marys.

They went 13-2 from then on, won the sectional and regional titles and made it to Charleston, the goal of every team when basketballs start hitting the hardwood in November.

Although the season ended with Thursday night’s 59-36 loss to that same St. Marys team in the Class A state championship quarterfinals, they fully understood the magnitude of what happened.

It was the first trip to Charleston since the 2001-02 season.

“It’s definitely been a goal since freshman year to get down here,” Bragg said. “We’ve done things we’ve never done before here at Madonna. This was, by far, the best season I’ve had at Madonna, with the teammates and all the support.

“We went on a run and we realized we were gelling together. I think everyone then realized that we were starting to get good. We weren’t a young team anymore. We started to be a really sound team.

“We got into the playoffs, and, just went off. I’m so proud of us. It was just awesome to see everybody work together and get here.

“Really, no one expected us to be here,” Bragg said. “We enjoyed every single moment of it. Yes, we lost, but, we’re here. We got here. How many teams would love to be in our spot?”

A lot of them.

Yet, on the podium sat Ogden, Bragg, Lenhart and Lammers answering questions about the last game of the 2015-16 season.

For Ogden, he will be back with a team returning eight players.

For Bragg, she is headed to play basketball at West Liberty.

For Lammers and Lenhart, gym time is over.

Yet, they all agreed, a loss does not diminish the season and the road traveled to Charleston.

All because of, you know, H=E+PV.

“I think our chemistry was incredible, we all like each other,” Lenhart said. “We count on each other. We share the ball.”

Lammers sat out a few games and it was killing her not to be on the court with her girls.

“I wanted to be back on the court, but I knew the freshmen and the rest of my teammates would pick it up for me while I was out,” she said. “I rushed to get mack to finish my season.”

It has been said that “the periodic table can be used to derive relationships between the properties of the elements.”

That, in essence, is a team.

“I think that’s what got us here,” Bragg said. “This is, by far, the best chemistry we’ve ever had – I personally think at least – on this team. That’s why we’ve made it so far. We all believed in each other. The freshmen, they weren’t freshmen in the middle of the season. They stepped up. They came to another level. They were ready to play like seniors, and they did. I’m really proud of everybody on this team.”

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com, followed on Twitter at @MathisonMike and is on the radio weekday mornings from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. with Joey Klepack and from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturdays on WEIR-AM)


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