BEVERLY - Last season Brooke Borich made up one-fifth of the Fort Frye Lady Cadet starting five that advanced all the way to the Ohio Division III state semifinal in Columbus before being eliminated in a heart-breaking 43-40 decision to Africentric.
That Lady Cadet team was a very experienced one as the other four starters, Morgan Liedtke, Taylor Buchanan, Deidra Combs, and Micayla Hupp were in their senior seasons after compiling one of the most successful four-year runs in school history.
Fast forward to the 2013-2014 season and once again the Lady Cadets find themselves primed to make a deep run into the postseason albeit under very different circumstances.
The Dan Liedtke-led Lady Cadets are just about as inexperienced this season as they were experienced last as only four Lady Cadets on this season's roster saw action in the magical 2012-2013 campaign.
Senior Shawntell Parsons and juniors' Megan Liedtke and Michelle Adkins were productive role players off the bench last season but the majority of the playing time in the postseason went to the fab five.
Borich knew full well heading into this season that she would be asked to play more of a leadership role for the Fort and so far the 5-foot-8 senior has lived up to those expectations and then some.
"It's definitely been a big change this year but I've done it before when I was young and I like the challenge," said Borich, after last Saturday's 54-43 win over the Waterford Lady Wildcats.
"We have a great team with great chemistry so that makes it fun to be a leader."
One of the signs of a true leader is one who steps up in clutch situations and delivers their best performances in the biggest games of the year.
Borich has done exactly that in the first half of the season as she has led the Cadets to an impressive 11-1 start.
She scored 23 and 20 points in key Pioneer Valley Conference triumphs over Shenandoah and Frontier respectively, while tossing in 22 points in a Lady Cadet win over a very tough Columbus Northland team in the Ohio River Classic at Marietta College.
In Fort Frye's two wins over the arch-rival Waterford Lady Wildcats, Borich scored 21 and 28 points, including a huge three-pointer at the end of the first overtime to force the second four minutes in game one and 21 points in the first half alone of the second game.
"She (Borich) has really developed into a great leader on the floor for us," said Dan Liedtke after the second win over the Wildcats. "When she gets on a roll like she did tonight she is a special player."
Forgive Waterford head coach Jerry Close if he is glad his days of coaching against Borich are finished.
"We've got to really hand it to Brooke Borich because she has beaten us twice this year," said Close after the second Battle of the Muskingum River. "She did what she does and that is hit big shots."
While other teams begin to focus more and more attention on Borich, the other Cadet players are beginning to step us as evidenced by Megan Liedtke's 21 points in Monday evening's win over the Warren Lady Warriors.
With a winning streak that now stands at 11 in a row the Lady Cadets appear set to make a strong play off run and you can bet that when the Cadets need that one big shot down the stretch, No. 14 will have the ball in her hands.
Mike Morrison is a Marietta Times part-time sports writer.