The Girls Varsity Basketball Team likes to call themselves a “third-quarter team,” Rosy Arora (11) said. During last weekend’s tournament at Somers High School, the Michael DePaoli 24th Annual Memorial Basketball Tournament, the Lions demonstrated their capability to triumph in the second half of the game. After having only a one-point lead entering half-time, they scored 32 points in the second half of the championship game to beat Kennedy Catholic High School with a score of 65-51.
The team beat Somers High School 47-35 to advance to the championship game against Kennedy, where the team entered as the underdogs, Co-Captain Halley Robbins (12) said. The team is in the C-league but ranked in the B-league, whereas Kennedy is in the A-league. “It’s a jump in the level of competition that we’re used to playing,” Robbins said.
The team ended its first quarter with a lead of 19-12, and increased its lead to ten points in the beginning of the second quarter. But by the half, its lead dropped to one point, making the score 33-32. This score was unusual for the team, coach Ray Barile said. Normally, the team gives up around 30 points for an entire game rather than in the first half.
The team began to lose its lead when the score was 31-25. After this, its opponents scored six points in two minutes. When its opponents started to catch up, members of the team started playing sloppily and rushing their shots in order to preserve their lead, Barile said. “We started not being patient, like we normally are. We play patient basketball, and we move the ball from side to side, and everyone touches the ball—that’s when we get really good, offensively.”
Barile said he wanted to avoid a repeat of the state championship game last year against Masters. In the Masters game, the Lions started with a 9-2 lead, but after Masters scored 10 points unopposed, the team became unnerved, he said. “Everyone’s trying to make shots instead of playing as a team—that’s what happened in the second quarter [of the game against Kennedy]. I said, ‘We can’t do what we did [against Masters]. We know when we do that, we’re not efficient, and we don’t play good basketball.’”
However, this time, the team stayed true to its name; the Lions scored 20 points in the third quarter, the most of any quarter in the game, whereas its opponents scored eight. “We were getting nervous because they had some momentum, but in the second half, we really picked up,” Robbins said.
Co-Captain Ella Anthony (12), who received MVP at the end of the game, led the team in the second half, making nine 2-point baskets. She made 17 baskets in total, counting her five freethrows. Anthony, along with Co-Captains Halley Robbins and Julia Robbins (12) spent 34 minutes in the game each.
The seniors statistics demonstrate their critical role on the team: Julia made four steals in the game, and Halley made 10 rebounds. For context, no players on the other team had shooting, stealing, and rebound statistics as high as Anthony’s, Julia’s, or Halley’s. “Our core three is pretty much better than any other team in the Ivy League,” Calzolaio said, referring to the seniors.
Underclassmen also contributed to the team’s lead; in the fourth quarter, Sareena Parikh (10) secured the team’s win by making two three-point shots in the span of 40 seconds, increasing the team’s surplus from 55-47 to 61-47. After each shot, the team members on the bench stood up and cheered. “One of the big things we tend to focus on is the bench, and how much energy we have on the bench. That tends to motivate the rest of the team,” Calzolaio said.
Discussion during halftime was a critical factor for the team’s win, Devin Allard-Neptune (10) said. An important aspect of halftime is reflecting on the effectiveness of their strategies, which is why the team increases its aggression afterwards, she said.
Barile is very perceptive during the game, noting the strengths and weaknesses of the other team, Allard-Neptune said. He shares this information with the players during halftime, and in the second half, they know what they need to work on, she said. “The way that Coach Barile coaches, he kind of tells you exactly what you need to hear, even if it might hurt in the moment, or not.”
Barile told the team that he wanted them to play a stronger defense, Arora said.
“We couldn’t get on a lot of their shots quick enough, so that’s where they scored a lot of their points,” Calzolaio said.
He also encouraged them to get in a competitive mental zone, Arora said. “No one really seemed to be in the right head game. He obviously expected us to be playing much better.”
The players need to have the right mental attitude to succeed in their games, Calzolaio said. “There’s a certain level of aggressiveness that we come out with in the second half.”
The Lions came back out ready to win, Barile said. “We went on a 14-0 run to start the third quarter, and we never looked back.[Their opponents] didn’t know what hit them.”
The seniors often encourage the younger players during halftime as the team discusses strategies and methods for the team to improve its playing, Calzolaio said. “I think that our three seniors are really good at understanding what they need to be doing, and we kind of adapt to whatever we’re playing.”
The captains motivate the players by emphasizing that they need to be united, Halley said. “That’s our job as captains—to make sure that everyone knows that they have a place on the team.”
The three seniors communicate with each other and the team well because they have learned to play basketball together, Halley said. They have played for four years as starters together, and have taught each other how to become better players. “Now as captains, it’s again about setting and controlling a pace for our team and understand that the underclassmen are going to learn from us and take us as examples,” she said.
When the clock ran out, the team hugged each other. The team’s victory was a result of their strong friendships, Barile said. “Are we better than those teams? Yes, I think we’re better than those teams, but the reason we won the tournament was because we had more chemistry than those teams.”
When asked about his proudest moment of the game, Barile took out his phone to show a photo that encapsulated the fun spirit of the team. The team posed on the court with their trophy, arms around each other, smiling. “It’s like a family,” he said.