Singular skills, unified team pushed through pandemic for Chester girls basketball triumph

| 06 Mar 2022 | 07:09

    Obstacles on and off the court confronted Chester Academy girl’s basketball program at points throughout the season. But, at every turn, the Hambletonians proved to be a united front en route to many significant victories.

    “We hit our goal of being undefeated in the League, which is a huge accomplishment, considering the teams we played,’’ Chester head coach Lindsay Rock said. “We definitely had big reflections after our losses against O’Neill in overtime and Nyack by one point.

    “They made us stronger and we definitely regretted not giving 110% in every practice and game before those. Our scrimmage against Warwick also gave us time to reflect on our mistakes and mentality. You either win or you learn for next time.’’

    Strong guidance by veteran student athletes on the roster has been a positive influence all year.

    “Allison Bono (junior, point guard) has shown major leadership this year,’’ Rock said. “She shows up ready to work every day, she gets her team pumped up, she teaches her teammates every game and every practice. She helps by reaching out to players, going to games and watching film. She puts 110% on the floor during every game which helps motivate the team.

    “Lexi Tierney (senior, shooting guard) is another huge leader on the team. When Lexi is not in the gym, the energy is off. Her positivity is something you cannot teach and it motivates every athlete and coach. She helps scout, she pumps up the team with her inspiring words and she reflects on her mistakes after every single game. She had to miss one game during the season, and she asked to Face Time and be put on the end of the bench so she could cheer on her teammates. If that doesn’t show what type of teammate she is, I don’t know what does.’’

    Individual student athlete improvements have definitely been noticed by the coaching staff this winter.

    “Christine Ravix (junior, center) has improved so much this season,’’ Rock said. “This is her first year in the Chester basketball program and she came in very timid on offense. She would either catch the ball and kick it out immediately or catch and chuck it at the basket. She is now a magnet in terms of rebounds and we all have faith that she will make the most difficult put backs.

    “Aniyah Lamb (senior, shooting guard) has also improved this season. This is her first year in the Chester basketball program as well. Tom Mariconi, one of my assistant coaches, went up to her to ask why she wasn’t shooting and trying to score in games. She told him that she wanted her teammates to trust her by giving out assists before she played her game. Her teammates definitely trust her and she is now an all-around player.’’

    As a team in general, Chester Academy made forward progress throughout the season.

    “We have improved our defense,’’ Rock said. “While my philosophy has always been defense first, we have really come a long way with defensive technique. We now know we have to trust each other and work together to make our defense as tough as it can be.’’

    Still, everyone within the Hambletonian program is well aware that there is always work to be done on the court.

    “I want us to improve on our offense,’’ Rock said. “Our fast break game is amazing, our defense has improved tremendously. I now want us to focus on running through an offense successfully by being confident and trusting ourselves and our teammates with the ball.’’

    The Covid-19 pandemic hit coach Rock personally.

    “The covid pandemic has definitely impacted the season,’’ Rock said. “Unfortunately, I came down with covid during winter break. It was the toughest thing to be weak and sick in bed while my assistants ran the show. The girls tried their hardest to push through and ended up beating Cornwall in a scrimmage. I believe that this made the team’s bond stronger and in the end, we were one of the lucky teams who did not have to shut down completely.’’

    NOTES: Chester placed second Section IX Class C Tournament after a hard fought loss in to Millbrook...throughout 20 games, they had an outstanding record of 17-3 versus tough competition.

    “We now know we have to trust each other and work together to make our defense as tough as it can be.’’ - Coach Lindsay Rock