In the previous three seasons, Tates Creek had more players quit than it had victories.
"We've had lots and lots of people quit; we made a list once," senior guard Kyleigh Kreyenbuhl said, "it was over 50 players."
The Commodores have suffered through what their coach called "embarrassing, demoralizing losses," including the seniors' first season when they won a total of two games.
But this has been a turnaround season for those three seniors and their coach. They earned their first ranking in five years last week.
They have grabbed wins over top 25 teams, but no win may have meant as much as a 49-38 win at Paul Dunbar Monday night.
It was the first district win for the No. 22 Commodores (16-9) since the seniors started playing as eighth graders.
"The hard work is finally paying off for us," said point guard Betsy Goodin, who had a career-high 23 points to go with her seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. "It's been a challenge, but it's been worth it this year."
The senior scored 16 of her 23 points in the second half, including a driving layup that ended a run that had gotten the Bulldogs (19-5) within four points late in the third quarter.
"The ball is safe in her hands," Coach Justin Cheatham said of Goodin. "When you need a basket, she finds a way to get to the rim. She made spectacular, unbelievable shots."
Tates Creek has now won 11 of its last 12 games and three straight. The Commodores' 16 wins are three more than they had last season.
They grabbed their first win over Dunbar in nine tries. The two will meet up again in six days in the first round of the 43rd District Tournament at Dunbar.
"We're a much better basketball team than what we showed tonight, but hats off to Tates Creek," Coach Mike Sowers said. "They did a great job in their halfcourt defense. We couldn't hit shots and that's what you have to do to beat that."
Creek's defense forced 17 Dunbar turnovers and it did its best to contain junior do-it-all Ebony Rowe, who still managed to score 15 points and grab 15 rebounds, along with four blocked shots.
It was only the second region loss of the season for the the Bulldogs, who had won eight straight before faltering in their last two games.
The Commodores celebrated mildly after their landmark win, saying later that they don't want to be satisfied with just one district win in four years.
Win or not, Cheatham said he couldn't be prouder of this group of girls.
"These are the greatest kids I know," he said. "To have failed as many times as they have failed but they still persevered. When you persevere you don't fail. "
Tates Creek 49, Paul Dunbar 38
TATES CREEK (16-9) — Olson 3, Goodin 23, Kreyenbuhl 7, Franklin 8, Jonas 6, Hisel 2.
PAUL DUNBAR (19-5) — Mitchell 2, A. Lucas 2, E. Lucas 10, Ch. Haney 9, Rowe 15.
Tates Creek 11 11 12 15—49
Paul Dunbar 5 9 11 13—38