MIDDLETOWN — Chelsea Kilian stood well behind the hive of activity Saturday night, watching her players celebrate and smiling like a proud mother.
The fourth-year Shenandoah coach was a part of two state titles as a player with the Raiders in 2003 and 2005. Moments earlier, she’d broken off from the end of the line as parents finished taking photos of the team huddled at midcourt and waved her arms to beckon the students waiting on the baseline to storm the floor and join the party.
Shenandoah’s 65-40 victory against Frankton in the Class 2A Sectional 40 championship game gave the school its first postseason crown since 2008 and allowed Kilian her first taste of a title celebration as a head coach.
“I’m extremely happy for them,” she said, soaking in the moment. “We had a couple rough years there, but they kept working and they kept fighting. They got into the gym every chance they got and kept trying to get better, and it paid off.”
There had been some fear of a letdown following an emotional 53-50 upset of ninth-ranked Lapel on Friday night. But the Raiders (17-4) quieted those doubts with an 8-2 run to start the game and a 16-5 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
With the Eagles (7-13) focused on containing center Rachel Krathwohl, Kilian asked her players to work the ball into the middle the floor. She wanted quick drives into the lane and good looks at the basket.
Shenandoah responded with six baskets from six different players to start the game and a first half that saw the team sink 17 of its 25 field-goal attempts.
As a result, the Raiders enjoyed a commanding 36-15 halftime lead.
“The one thing we’ve always told them is you don’t want to get too high, and you don’t want to get too low,” Kilian said. “Every day is a new day. They’re not going to remember what you did yesterday. It’s all about what you do today. So a quick start was important for us.”