STOW — They have a losing record as the regular season nears it end.
Nevertheless, the battle-tested Bulldogs have certainly come a long way since the beginning of the season.
And they’ve managed to stay in one piece too.
Thanks to its dramatic 50-48 victory over Twinsburg last Friday, the Stow-Munroe Falls boys basketball team improved to 9-10 overall and 7-5 in the rugged Suburban League National Conference.
The Bulldogs, who have suffered one injury after another, prevailed against the talented Tigers despite their lack of depth. Stow used just eight players against Twinsburg, which saw its conference title hopes pretty much obliterated after the loss.
The lack of bodies hasn’t been the only issue for the Bulldogs. One could make a strong case that Stow has dealt with more adversity than it ever has during head coach Dave Close’s 32-year tenure.
Case in point: The Bulldogs started the season with four consecutive losses.
And then when it looked like it had turned the corner, Stow went on a five-game losing streak.
It’s safe to say those dark days are a thing of the past on Graham Road.
The win over the Tigers, who the Bulldogs have owned for much of the last two decades, was Stow’s fourth consecutive victory.
"I remember looking at the schedule when we were 5-5," Close said. "I said, ‘We’re going to be underdogs the next five games.’ We lost all of them, but we played some super basketball in that stretch.
"There was that two-minute spurt here, two-minute spurt there that swung the game for us. We had leads at North Royalton, [St.] Ignatius, Brecksville, Copley. We had leads in all of those games, but we had spells where we lost focus, turned it over."
Despite their dramatic turnaround, the Bulldogs will not win a National Conference championship this season.
North Royalton clinched at least a tie for the title when it cruised past Wadsworth 57-41 last Friday. Stow trails the Bears by three games with just two conference contests to go.
However, it’s a good bet that not too many opponents are looking forward to seeing maroon and gold colors when the postseason begins.
The Bulldogs received the ninth seed at the Twinsburg Division I sectional-district tournament. They are scheduled to visit eighth-seeded Kenston in a sectional semifinal contest Feb. 26 in Chagrin Falls. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
On paper, just about anyone will tell you Stow doesn’t have a chance to make much noise in this vaunted bracket.
The top four seeds, Shaker Heights, Garfield Heights, Solon and Warren G. Harding, are perennial heavyweights.
At the same time, though, their perseverance to keep marching in this treacherous journey may be just what the Bulldogs need to pull off a few surprises.
Just ask their coach.
"When you have a young team and you go on a five-game losing streak, my concern was, will they lose faith in their team or their teammates," he said. "They have not done that one iota. I never sensed that for a second."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_Gannett.