Actions speak louder

Girls basketball finishes season with 0-10 record, but players are proud of what they accomplished


Stephanie Jimenez

Junior Montserrat Reteguin, junior Phyllis Strother, and senior Kochia Anderson sit anxiously on the bench cheering on their team during the final league game against Chavez. Stagg lost, 48-32.

On their senior night, the girls varsity basketball team played a highly contested game against Chavez until the final buzzer sounded. Final score: 48-32. The players didn’t bother looking at the yellow LEDs of the scoreboard to tell them they lost. They knew they had fought hard for every shot, every rebound, every fastbreak. They weren’t fazed by the Chavez team who cheered “playoffs” as they left the gym. The girls closed out their season not dwelling on their 0-10 league record but admiring each other’s undying effort.

“That’s what matters,” senior Janet Jones said. “If we give it everything we got, we have nothing to be ashamed of.” At the beginning of the season, each player entered into this unspoken pact. Instead of letting the fear of failure consume them, they recited this mantra to themselves.

As the season tipped off, senior Julieana Nincioni knew it would be grueling. “Coach was building a new, young team,” she explained. Not only were the girls learning new plays but they were adapting to an entirely different way of playing basketball. Coach Shannon Markley wanted to form offensive and defensive play around a “read and react” style rather than grooming players for positions. Those that couldn’t adjust quit, but the rest stayed open minded. “I trust my coach,” senior Jessica Chavarin said. “The new play style allowed more people a chance to shine.”

Yet after the first few losses, the degrading comments devastated players like senior Adreanna Tei. She recalled how emotional she was the night after a loss as the hurtful words tormented her. “I tried to let my effort keep my mind off the losses,” the senior said. Tei knew that after playing for six years, she couldn’t allow the thoughts of others keep her from the sport she loves. In those moments of overwhelming doubt, when she thought she couldn’t make it down court or couldn’t make a shot, Tei thought of her father sick at home. “I knew in my mind he was there,” the senior said. “He was my motivation to stay on that court.”

The girls team maintained this shared motivation throughout the season. Jones, or “mama bear” as she’s known for her words of encouragement, enforced the idea of always finishing strong. “Even if we knew going in we didn’t have a chance,” Jones said, “we’re going to fight.”

Chavarin’s dedication to her teammates fueled her motivation. “If I didn’t give it everything I had, I felt like I let them down,” she said. Chavarin hoped that her own determination and positivity in failure inspired her team to push through.

On that last night, junior Aliyaah Wilson-Mercado was “hoping for a win for the seniors. I was frustrated because people don’t know the story behind (our games).” However, Wilson-Mercado was reassured by the fulfillment being on the team offered.

But there is a unanimous feeling on the team that their effort goes unrecognized, that the losses trump the hours of dedication they each put in. “They (other people) aren’t on the court or at our practices,” Nincioni said. “They don’t see how hard we work to make our school proud.”

Instead of a game lost, they see a learning experience gained. “After each defeat,” Nincioni said, “ we knew we overcame and accomplished something.”