By Brigid Clifford, Sports Editor
This winter, the basketball team completed its first varsity season with a record of 13-9 and an undefeated record at home. Coached by Pat Grier and Dana Lenneper with assistance from Lauren Pappa, the Monarchs advanced to the second round of the NJISAA (Prep) State Tournament in addition to qualifying for and playing in the first round of NJSIAA State Championships. They played through the season living by one of Grier’s favorite quotes: “If you believe you can, you will.”
Because the ten girls on the team are only freshmen and sophomores, Lenneper says that they are lacking the height and muscle that some of their opponents have; however, they did not let this disadvantage stop them from playing hard and winning many games. The girls worked well as a cohesive unit and were motivated by the support from the players on the bench and the “Monarch Madness” in the stands.
“The girls were so good. They have had experience playing together and are fundamentally sound, and it’s always cool to watch them play,” Lenneper said.
Throughout the winter, the team had many standout games and experiences. The matchups against Freehold Township, Union Catholic, Long Branch and Morristown Beard were all intense and close games. In the coaches’ eyes, each game was a highlight, especially the ones in which they beat teams they had lost to last season.
“To select a few memories is difficult since each practice and game brought new energy. Watching our team grow together through hard work is always enjoyable,” Grier said.
Going forward, the basketball team plans on improving the skills and assets that they already have. “Our team will grow with experience. As we grow stronger and more confident, so will our team. Our defense will be stronger as well as our ability to execute our attack to the basket,” Grier said.
They are looking forward to having new players on the team next year and hope to win more away games while continuing their winning streak at home. “For a first varsity season, we were able to qualify for state tournaments and we had a lot of accomplishments. We hope our success continues to grow,” sophomore Catherine Loder said, and added her prediction for the future of the young team. “You’ll see us in the Shore Conference finals [my] senior year!”
Both the team and the coaches are extremely proud of the success they had this past season. “It was really fun to bond with the team. I was really proud because we only have sophomores and freshmen but we never gave up,” sophomore Haley Cesario said.
In summary, Grier said, “…the season was one of pride. To have had the pleasure to coach such fine individuals that comprise a unique, special team is magical.”