As stated in our last post, this is a special group. First Sunday League class. First +.500 record @ Summer League. A total record of 25-9 at the Varsity and JV levels combined. Two 2nd place trophies, two 3rd place ones, and some incredible memories. They set a great example for the underclassmen to follow, whether they were on the team, managing, or in the stands. Filling their shoes will be difficult.
(Sitting left to right))
Marina was one of our two rookies, and played well despite not having played much ball until this year. Her athleticism is remarkable, which eased her transition onto the team. She’ll be a solid high school player should she play on. Marina was also one of our most dedicated players, explicitly asking what she can do better – including footwork! – and wasting no time at practice. She’s a great example of how to jump headfirst into the challenge of being new on a team.
Few players love basketball as much as Tiffany. Though she couldn’t get a ride to Summer League games, she made every open gym. Tiff’s dedication is unparalleled. Her best moments came in two of our biggest games. With Amanda fouled out against Burr Ridge, Tiff stepped in and played great in her place for the last 10 minutes of a double OT game, including scoring the tying bucket of the first OT. Even better was in the Final Four. Amanda took a hard hit and had to leave the game due to bleeding 2 minutes in. Tiff not only plays great defense, but hits two HUGE 15 footers. Nearly every player jumped off the bench to congratulate her after the first quarter ended.
Miyax L. (#24)
Our lone 7th grader on the team this season was Megan (#10). Megan is a “silent assassin:” you have no idea where she is until she makes a great pass, cuts backdoor, or follows someone’s miss with a put back. She’s one of our smartest players, and gained invaluable experience on this team. But for this team, as a part-time starter, she was irreplaceable, fundamentally sound, and a developing shooter. 2012 is a promising season with her on the wing.
Antoinette (#20) was our enforcer and source of energy and toughness this year. Nobody we played could handle her. She dove everywhere, crashed the boards, fought for every rebound and lose ball she could. For as tough as she was, Antoinette was surprisingly quick. She beat passes into the post and started fast breaks with great reads on defense. Antoinette will be a tough high school player, and practically impossible for us to replace.
Of all the teams and players we have coached, few have been the kind of teammate that Jeannie (#13) was. Jean stayed late after practice to work on her shot, helped the JV team as a manager, talked to her coaches about how she could improve, and supported her teammates in a multitude of ways. She was also one of our best shooters and passers. We’ll miss the player and the teammate that started with us as a Sunday League girl in 6th grade, and graduates our program this week.
Another one of our first Sunday League crew is Becca (#22). Becca is another one of our tough players, somebody that played great defense and had a real nice shot. Becca was also the perfect teammate. No matter how much Becca played terrible when she wasn’t around. Becca was this teams guts, their voice, and source of a lot of our closeness. Becca was the loudest one on the bench, the one telling girls to shut up, and the one on the floor taking charges. And when she subsequently missed 10 days with a concussion, she made every practice and game.
(Back Row, from left to right)
Taylor is someone we’ll talk about for a long time. One of our best scorers and a sense for the ball, Taylor started hot, but started to struggle in the middle of the year. Instead of quitting on herself, Taylor regrouped, brought a great work ethic, and did whatever it took to get better for her team – and at the same time support her girls on the floor. “Oprah’s” speeches were inspiring to her teammates, but her play is what spoke loudest – in the last 2 weeks of the season, Taylor stepped up – including 2 big buckets in the championship game – scoring our last bucket of the season.
Syd is another great story. When she couldn’t make open gyms, she made a point to tell me specifically what she worked on at home. She’s our most improved player from the beginning of 7th grade to the end of 8th grade, developing some high-school level skills that should make her successful in the future. One of smartest and nicest girls we’ve coached, she learned to toughen up and play great defense – including a nice block in our Final Four game on Lisle’s All-Star center.
Of all our talent girls, the one I can’t wait to see play high school ball is Rebekah. She single-handedly beat Burr Ridge with a 6-6 shooting night (all from 15 foot range), and paired her growing offensive skills with some impressive defense. Rebekah is a nice, giggly kid, but she’s the best example we have of someone who steps inside the lines of the court and becomes a monster. A textbook box-out artist, she played outstanding post defense and rebounded. At this rate, she’ll be a great high school player to watch!
Jacky is one of the best defensive players we’ve coached. She had the worst luck at the end of the season – missing time in each of the last 6 games due to an ankle injury. She was one of our best passers, finishers, and defenders… the kind of player that makes so many unselfish players, you don’t realize how amazing she is until she steps off the floor. Like Amanda and Ava, she’s a 3-year player and one of our hardest working kids.
Emma is the last of our rookies, and yet another example of a terrific teammate. She had no experience coming in, and had to play amongst some pretty talented players, so learning came against tough competition. Yet, she worked hard to learn and play well. Sadly, she hurt her knee just four games into the season and never had a chance to put that hard work to test. One of my best memories was when Emma got a chance to play a lot – with confidence and conditioning – she kicked some butt against Westview. She’s one of our best examples of dedication to a team and caring for your team/teammates.