Girls Varsity Basketball won the state championship game for the first time in history for their team defeating The Masters School 55-33 last Monday, marking their second consecutive year of being undefeated in the Ivy Preparatory School League.
Having lost the championship last year against the same opponent, the team was more motivated than ever to win, Head Coach Ray Barile said.
Masters also beat the Lions in the state championship semifinals two years ago. “We felt like we had to get revenge and come back from that reputation that they had,” Rosy Arora (11) said. “We knew going into the game that we were the better team, and we proved it on the court.”
In the first quarter, both teams made several successful shots, giving no clear indication of who might take away the trophy. The quarter ended with the Lions in the lead with a score of 21-12, and they brought the score up to 34-12 by the end of the second quarter. The team’s focus on defense is what prevented Masters from scoring any points in the second quarter – something that is very rare, particularly in a championship game, Barile said.
Co-Captain Ella Anthony (12) also had an impressive fast break during the second quarter, using speed to her advantage to quickly turn and bring the ball back up the court toward their hoop to shoot. “We were pushing the pace, and we knew they couldn’t run with us,” co-Captain Halley Robbins (12) said.
While Masters’ scored 21 more points during the second half, the Lions also increased their score by 21, solidifying their win. In the end, Masters only scored 33 points, which is much lower than their average of about 60 per game.
The Lions’ unity and energy this year were two of the main factors of their success.
Mia Calzolaio (10) said that all the members recognize the importance of bringing good energy to the game. “The bench is a really big part of that, because they are the ones that keep the morale of the team up even if players feel they aren’t playing well,” she said. “During the championship especially, there was a lot of cheering, standing up, and staying loud, and I think that was one of the reasons why we won.”
The captains also boosted the players’ mentality by giving pep talks and advice, Arora said.
Barile said that the team has become very cohesive, with strong, confident players from all different grades.
Physical preparation and dedication also contributed to the Lions historic season.
The team practiced on Saturdays and went to Florida over winter break for a tournament. “We got to play harder teams from all over the country, and it really took the competition to another level,” Arora said.
In addition to putting in extra effort throughout the season, the team made sure to prepare carefully for the championship game. “It was a very well-coached game,” Robbins said. “Barile did a very good job scouting the team. We hadn’t played them earlier this season, but he watched a lot of tapes, and he prepared us for our match-ups very well.”
Masters has proven to be an efficient offensive team, whereas the Lions are a more defensive team. As a result, one of the Lion’s priorities was to guard Masters’ most skillful scorer – a junior named Brooke Tatarian – and capitalize on their strong defense, Barile said.
Halley Robbins was in charge of guarding Tatarian, whose height made her an even more intimidating opponent. “I was kind of nervous about that match-up, but we played a special defense on her; I wasn’t in help defense, I was just guarding her and that was my responsibility,” Robbins said. The trust that she was able to place in her teammates, especially with leaving the help defense to the other players, was very beneficial during the game, she said.
The team consistently developed upon their strengths as they moved through the season and put together the best basketball game they’ve ever played for the final championship, Barile said. “It was a pleasure to watch.”