Shooting for the Championship

The Girls Basketball Team Aims for a Return to the Postseason

The girls basketball team has started off their season with a record of 11-2. Despite losing last year’s seniors, the team has not lost any momentum. Just as they have previously done, the girls have their eyes set on the league, county, and state championships. Without the seniors, the team has had to try out some new strategies to produce another championship win.

While the team started off their season strong, they still acknowledge that there is always room for improvement. So far, they have only lost to (Morris County Champion) Chatham and IHA. The girls’ main focus is to prepare themselves for the postseason and championship games, even if that makes their regular season more challenging. Assistant coach Christine Massaro explained that during tournaments, teams will take “soft opponents to boost their record, but those teams are never really prepared for the postseason.” Contrarily, NVOT “goes out and finds the top teams across the state, like Chatham (last years Morris County Champion) so that [they] are battle-tested and know where [they] stand and what [they] need to continue to improve upon.”

Playing against more difficult teams has served the team well as senior Noelle Gonzalez stated, “We have faced some challenges earlier this season that have prepared us to play well against talented teams. Each day we work hard at practice to get better and to work on things that will get us where we want to be.”

Massaro believes that honing in on improvement during the early part of the season is essential if the girls want to reach their goals of championship titles. “[The] grind in December and January,” puts the team “in position to win those titles in February and March,” Massaro explained.

Losing seniors from the year before forced the girls to alter the way they play the game if they want to have a season like last year’s. Sophomore Jenna Fitzgerald stated, “Last year, our team had two big post players. This year, we are lacking height.” However, Fitzgerald went on to explain how losing taller girls “has not been much of an issue [because the team] has just been working differently and using [their] speed to [their] advantage against other teams.”

Massaro stated, “Seniors Noelle Gonzalez, Jackie Kelly, Megan Weis, and Ariella Baum have stepped up to fill the leadership void from last year. Underclassmen Gianna Saccoccio, Isabella Giampaglia, Lauren DeGennaro, and Emily Clune have stepped up their contributions, as well.”

As for right now, Head Coach Brian Dunn said, “our biggest expectation is that we get better every day and that we continue to improve and live up to the standards that we set for ourselves in being tough, working hard, and being unselfish.” The girls will work to meet these expectations in their next game on Tuesday, January 22 against Indian Hills.