ANDERSON — The climate is ripe with excuses.
Extreme winter weather has made a mockery of area sports schedules, stranding teams without a game for more than a week then hurtling them through a gauntlet of six games in eight days.
It's tough for a team to find traction. Consistency is supposed to be an unachievable dream.
Just don't try telling that to the Anderson girls basketball team.
This week the Lady Tribe (16-3) received its first recognition of the season from the Indiana Girls Basketball Coaches Association, checking in at No. 20 in the single-class all-state poll.
On Thursday, weather permitting, Anderson will put its 11-game winning streak on the line against the 19th-ranked team in that poll — Pike (14-8).
The Red Devils are the only team this season to knock off top-ranked Lawrence North, scoring a 53-50 victory in the teams' second meeting of the season on Jan. 11.
That's not exactly an ideal opponent for Senior Night, but for the Lady Tribe it's just another exciting challenge to tackle.
"We're going to play a team that plays with the best and beat the very best," Anderson coach Chad Cook said. "That's how you get better."
Cook has a simple design for the season, breaking it down as a series of 27 opportunities for his players to improve. That philosophy proved useful after a Dec. 21 loss at Logansport.
The game was hyped as a North Central Conference championship showdown, and a lot of emotion was poured into the effort. But because Cook refuses to allow the Lady Tribe to look at one game as a make or break proposition, the sting of the loss did not linger.
"All year, we've talked about mental toughness," Cook said. "No matter who we're playing, we're trying to be mentally tough for all four quarters. We keep them all the same."