The Lady Raiders mentality: “Once it’s basketball season, it’s basketball season”


Emma Thumann

When it comes to sports, there’s always room for improvement.All sports teams are training to be better, even if they won every single game in the previous season and performed without flaw. Improvement doesn’t lead to winning every single game; it harbors multiple factors: communication, skill and overall team morale. This past season, the girls varsity basketball team excelled in certain aspects of the game and felt the need to focus more on others.

I think compared to previous years we are performing better in certain areas,” sophomore Julia Devisio said. “We are still trying to figure out how to play with each other, especially with the number of injuries and people getting sick this year.”

This season, there were no senior varsity players, so the brunt of boosting team morale and the leadership of such a new and young team fell onto the juniors. 

Photo by Emma Thumann
Junior Carly Walker barrels through a Union Catholic Viking. Both teams battled aggressively, but the Vikings walked away with the win.

“Everyone was very new this year,” Head Girls Basketball Coach and Social Studies teacher Ryan McKenna said. “There were a couple of girls playing on the freshman team and they got passed up to this team, so we started with a really young squad.”

Next year, the same players will likely be returning, which increases the probability of having a better upcoming season. This is because the team already knows how to work together from this year.

“The team’s really close, so I think just the connection and the bond with the players was not only shown outside of practices but also in games,” junior Ryann Wall said. “It was easier to run plays and understand each other, which helped create a sense of fluency in the games.”

The Lady Raiders had impressive strategies for defense this season, mostly playing a 1-3-1 zone defense and utilizing a 2-3 defense only when the original zone defense was not enough to stall tougher opponents. They also played aggressively for offense, which allowed them to drive in and get some shots. 

“We won more games than last year, we were more competitive than last year and we beat teams that had 15 wins,” McKenna said. “They were a more cohesive group than last year, they stayed in games more, they were more competitive, and they were more successful. The teams we beat this year, I don’t think we could have beaten them last year.”

When it comes to improvement in order to ensure a better season, it boils down to the little things such as movement, ball handling, dribbling and finding the right shots. During practices, the team is repeatedly going over their offensive and defensive plays, to the point where on the court the habit picks up.

“We need to see the court and make smart decisions on and off the ball,” Devisio said. “We need to work on screening, cutting, reading your defender and cutting backdoor or taking a player on one-on-one if they’re open.”

One of the habits the team was struggling to rid themselves of was constant passing. During practices, they focus on some drills that show specifically when to pass the ball to another player, instead of just aimlessly tossing it around. 

“We need to be more constant with everything, like dribbling, shooting, all the basic skills,” junior Madison-Anne StaRosa said.

Off the court, team morale and communication are not significant issues, as the team gets along well with one another like family. However, on the court they struggle with communication, both on offense and defense.

“[The team] needs to improve their skill with the ball, conditioning, and overall experience playing basketball,” McKenna said. “The more they play, the more comfortable they’ll get.”

As the season comes to a close, Emily Friscia led the team with a total of 188 points scored, 70 rebounds and 50 steals. Ashley DeFrancesco scored 177 points, had 110 rebounds and 63 steals. Even though Alicia Murphy missed a quarter of the season due to an injury, she managed to end the season with an impressive 123 points. For the final 15 games, Katie Wilson, who came to the varsity team from JV, scored an average of eight points and ten rebounds per game.

Photo by Emma Thumann
Junior Ryann Wall narrowly dodges a Union Catholic Viking. Wall has always tried to boost morale for the Lady Raiders.

Despite the injuries and illnesses throughout the season, the Lady Raiders laid down a foundation for success in years to come. 

“Once it’s basketball season, it’s basketball season,” Wall said.