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The Season Ends, and the Scoreboard Doesn’t Tell the Story

On the first day of practice in October, Lutz asked her players some basic questions. Where is the free-throw line? What is traveling? How many players are on the court at a time?

Most of the girls replied with blank stares.

“Until Christmas, I was teaching them offense versus defense,” Lutz said. “We have a crash course in peewee basketball — dribbling, passing, shooting, defense.”

She knows that her record with a team that always loses may preclude her from coaching elsewhere someday. It gnaws at her. But she musters enthusiasm for the job — doggedly challenging referees, for example, or diving for loose balls in practice to set an example.

“I’m going to coach like we’re going to win a state championship,” Lutz said. “They deserve that.”

Players see her as a stable, trustworthy role model, unlike anyone they know. She is fiery, sassy and confident. She gives them pointers on everything from manners to hairstyles.

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When Children Are Caught in the Cycle, Not All Can Be Saved

Always alert to the movements of the players, particularly at road games, he was in his element. He scanned the faces in the crowd. He searched for hints of trouble.

But to him, it was not an issue of race. It was an issue of keeping the students safe. And right now, the girls were behind a closed door, gathered in a circle with their arms locked at the elbows, receiving last-minute instructions from their coach and bowing their heads in prayer.

They were safe.

So Steele, 53, stood near the baseline, outside the locker room minutes before the game, and looked pleased to be there. He let slip a sliver of a smile.

Those girls in the locker room? They were not just basketball players. To Steele, they were something of himself.

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For Carroll Academy’s Players, Home is Not Always a Haven

One side of the gym had a smattering of fans for Sacred Heart. The bleachers set aside for Carroll Academy’s Lady Jaguars were virtually empty. Again.

The nine girls on the team usually outnumber their fans in the stands.

“That tells you all you need to know,” said Randy Hatch, the day-to-day leader of Carroll Academy, a school in Huntingdon administered by the juvenile court. “That’s why we’re here. If their parents had been there all along, maybe we wouldn’t be here. Right now, we’re the only family they got.”

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