DANVILLE -- One thousand, 20 days.
That's how long it had been since the Burlington High School girls basketball team last felt the thrill of victory.
In between there had been 40 agonizing defeats.
That made Monday's 49-38 victory over Danville in the season opener that much sweeter.
Led by freshmen Mylee Stiefel and Daphne Brown and seniors Ella Schroeder and Lilly Bartels, Burlington put its 40-game losing skid to rest, and set the stage for what the Grayhounds hope will be many more victories this season and beyond.
"It feels awesome. I'm just happy to help the team end their losing streak. It was a great first game," said Stiefel, who scored a game-high 15 points. "It's a lot of fun, especially getting that huge win. We're all excited."
"I'm just happy to say that my first high school basketball game was a win," said Brown, who scored a conventional three-point play early in the fourth quarter to give the Grayhounds a 10-point lead.
"It feels absolutely amazing. I feel like the curse has been broken," said Schroeder, the only player remaining who played in the last BHS girls basketball victory, a 40-28 triumph over Clinton on Feb. 13, 2020. "They've been challenging, mostly mentally and emotionally. Giving your all and never quite getting those results. We had a lot of really close games, but it never quite worked out in our favor until now. It feels just amazing to say that we won."
Perhaps no one felt more relieved than head coach Dee Dee Warner, who heard the grumblings and felt the stinging pain of all 40 losses. It was the dawning of a new day, and a new era.
"Three long years. It feels pretty awesome. Grateful for the girls. Loved the win. We were proud of them. They stayed the course. We went behind a couple points, but the girls did really well," Warner said. "It's been rough. People asking me if I'm going to quit, things like that. I'm not going to quit because I know if I get that solid group that wants to learn basketball, we will do well. I'm doing my best. I hope I'm teaching the girls and people can see that. I don't want to give up. I don't want to leave on a losing record."
The first of many Mylee moments
Stiefel joins the BHS varsity team hot on the heels of a remarkable junior high career. And with that comes pressure.
Stiefel, who idolizes UConn junior Paige Bueckers and admires Iowa standout Caitlin Clark, showed off a few nifty moves of her own.
Twice Stiefel hit step-back 3-pointers. Another time she pulled up and buried a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from just inside 25 feet to end the first quarter.
Not to mention the no-look pass that would have made both Bueckers and Clark proud.
Stiefel took the ball on the right wing and whipped a no-look pass to Emma Rohrer, who buried a 3-pointer to give BHS a 13-9 lead.
It was all in a night's work for the phenomenal freshman, who plays the game with true grit, and a smile.
"I knew Emma was there. I could feel her there and she's a great shooter, so I knew I had to get it to her," Stiefel said. "I actually do feel a lot of pressure, but I try to drown it out and just be me on the court and help my teammates not feel pressure, either. I just love being on the court, especially with my friends. It's just a great atmosphere."
"I'm very proud of them," Warner said. "I knew Mylee would be solid. She bleeds basketball. I knew she would be solid."
"I knew Stiefel would be really competitive," Danville head coach Matt Morris said. "Stiefel really does some nice stuff and she opens things up for her teammates."
Grayhounds find a way to win
Danville made a run at the Grayhounds in the fourth quarter, cutting a 12-point lead to 42-36 with a 6-0 run. Rylee Morris scored four of her team-high 10 points in that stretch, which ended with a steal and basket by Jaeda Molle.
"We don't have the depth we had last year, so we're not able to play the same style we played last year," Coach Morris said. "Right now we just have to figure out what we are going to be, play to our strengths."
In previous years, BHS would have folded under the pressure and lost. This time, the Grayhounds responded with a 7-2 run to end the game. A 3-pointer by Rohrer closed the scoring.
"I think this is the first year that I have been on varsity that we have truly played as a team, not just as an 'I,'" Schroeder said. "We showed that we can work together smoothly and cohesively and obviously it ended up in a better result."
And with that, the losing streak was a thing of the past.
"An immense weight has been lifted. It's been a hard road, but I'm so glad that all of our hard work has paid off," Schroeder said.
"With having the losing streak, you have to keep playing. You can't give up, which I think is the whole point of basketball," Brown said.
"It was a pretty good start. We came out strong. We came out with good intensity and kept it going through the whole game," Stiefel said.
"We have a group of girls who really want it this year," Warner said. "Just the girls' attitudes, wanting it more. They are tired of losing. If they come out and play with that kind of heart out there, it's going to be a good season. I have a great group of girls."
By the numbers
Myah Rehman 1-4 0-0 2, Lilly Bartels 2-5 2-2 6, Mylee Stiefel 6-12 0-3 15, Ella Schroeder 3-9 1-9 8, Saydee Plummer 0-2 0-0 0, Sophie Brown 2-7 1-2 5, Emma Rohrer 3-9 2-4 10, Daphne Brown 1-3 1-2 3. Totals: 18-51 7-22 49.
Taylor Moore 1-11 3-6 6, Jaeda Moller 1-7 0-2 2, Graci Walker 0-1 0-0 0, Rylee Morris 4-11 2-9 10, Kenna Furnald 3-11 0-2 8, Taegan Frazier 2-3 0-0 4, Alexis Dietsch 2-3 0-0 5, Reagan Henkelvig 0-2 2-2 2, Alaina Gourley 0-2 1-2 1. Totals: 13-51 8-23 38.
Score by quarters
Burlington. 10 .14 .9 16. — 49
Danville. 6 .13. 9. 10. — 38
Fouls: Burlington 20, Danville 22. Fouled out: Walker. Technicals: None. 3-point goals: Burlington 6-24 (Stiefel 3-7, Rohrer 2-6, Schroeder 1-5, Plummer 0-1, Rehman 0-2, S.Brown 0-3), Danville 4-19 (Furnald 2-7, Dietsch 1-2, Moore 1-7, Molle 0-1, Morris 0-1, Gourley 0-1).
Records: Burlington 1-0, Danville 0-1.
This article originally appeared on The Hawk Eye: Burlington plays complete game to stave off Danville's rally in fourth