It’s hard to imagine a basketball team that captured a Section 1 Championship and the precious golden ball at the Westchester County Center last March is actually stronger and more skilled a year later.
Keep your eyes on the Alexander Hamilton Red Raiders Girls Basketball Team. This group of girls and their head coach Benjamin Carter know how to make headlines.
Last weekend they won their own annual basketball tournament The Elmsford Classic by defeating Byram Hills in the first round and Pleasantville in the championship game. They have a perfect record of 3-0 to start the 2012-2013 season.
One of the biggest reasons why the Red Raiders could be stronger this year compared to last is the addition of senior point guard Tiffany Corselli who transferred to Hamilton this fall from Sacred Heart.
Carter believes Corselli will have a significant impact on her team this season.
“She brings leadership qualities in the point guard position,” said Carter who guided the Red Raiders to 18 wins last year. “Jasmine (Robinson) is a point guard but she does a lot for us defensively. Tiffany can take that over a little bit, run the team, get everything organized and make it easier for Jasmine and Maia to score.”
Corselli is familiar with teammates Maia Hood and Jasmine Robinson. The trio has been playing together for several years as members of the Westchester Hoopsters AAU program.
On Friday night the Red Raiders played solid defense during their first quarter game versus the Byram Hills Bobcats. The Red Raiders intense defense took the Bobcats out of their game early. The Bobcats committed 11 turnovers during the first quarter of play and the Red Raiders seized a 16-5 advantage. Jasmine Robinson led the Red Raiders with eight points in the quarter and Corselli who had several steals in the game contributed six points also.
The second quarter was all about bewilderment. All the things the Red Raiders did right during the first quarter quickly disappeared as they turned the ball over eight times and allowed the Bobcats to make this game a close contest 27-23 at halftime. Corselli led the Red Raiders with five points in the second quarter including a three-pointer.
At halftime Carter wanted to make some adjustments to the way his team was playing.
“I had to make a statement. Things were breaking down defensively. Our motto is defense. I just don’t want them just thinking offense like we’re going to come in and run people out of the gym,” said Carter about his attempt to improve his team’s defense at the half.
It took a few minutes into the second half for his defensive switches to kick in. The Bobcats with 6:10 to go in the third quarter made it a two-point game 29-27 and it looked for a matter of seconds that the Bobcats might turn the tide of this game in their favor. Hood made sure that didn’t happen when she made a key basket 10 seconds later and the Red Raiders were off to the races. Their defense helped cause seven turnovers by the Bobcats in the third quarter.
The second half of the third quarter is when the Red Raiders put this game away. Hood had eight rebounds in this quarter to go along with seven points. Corselli had several steals and nine points to help her team in the third quarter. Robinson had four points in the quarter and going into the final eight minutes of the game the Red Raiders had a 48-29 lead.
In the fourth quarter the Red Raiders didn’t allow the Bobcats any chance to get back into this game. They ended up winning 62-38. Corselli led all scorers with 26 points, Hood finished with 16 points and had over 10 rebounds in the game. Robinson had 17 points in the Raiders third victory of the season.
“We’re better than last year’s team,” said Hood after the game. “Tiffany brings a lot more than we had last year. She brings a good point guard and when I’m in the post it’s a good all-around game. We can have an outside-inside game going on too.”
Carter believes his team is moving in the right direction early in the season.
“I’m extremely excited about where we are right now knowing there is a lot more work ahead of us,” said Carter. “Defense is where we need to pick up. If we can shut teams down that are used to scoring and our offense can help us put the ball in the hoop and just slow things down.”
The Red Raiders first win of the season came over Briarcliff. Hood led the team with 25 points in the game. Corselli added 20 points and Robinson had 14 points.
This week the Red Raiders will travel north to play in a two-day tournament at Horace Greeley beginning on Friday.
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