The Lady Tigers Struggling with Six Games Left in Regular Season

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No matter what their records, when White Plains High School plays The Ursuline School in basketball, there is one thing that is assured; there will be a fierce competitive battle on the court from tip-off to final buzzer.

Such was the case when the Tigers traveled to New Rochelle, on Friday, Jan. 11, to meet their longtime nemesis the Koalas at The Ursuline School.

Both teams are in the midst of difficult seasons. The Tigers have won only one game against seven losses and Ursuline has merely two wins amongst six losses this season. On Friday, these two marquee Westchester County high school women’s basketball programs entered the game with similar records of 1-6.

Ursuline’s legendary Head Coach Beth Wooters with her 28 years of coaching experience, which includes 13 League Titles, eight Sectional Titles and two New York State Titles, certainly knows the deal. A team takes it one game at a time and they will have some good seasons and some not so good seasons.

Relatively, White Plains Head Coach Liz Flooks understand the same concept but from another perspective, as a high school and Division 1 college basketball player.

Flooks is in her first year as Head Coach of the Lady Tigers and is coping with a tough season. The Lady Tigers record after their loss to Ursuline remained 1-7. Their only win came against Maria Regina High School, 52-46, on December 18.

Among seven losses, Flooks explained the Tigers sole win against Maria Regina by stating, “Everybody was just on that day.” And of course, we understand that this is really what it takes to win basketball games.

Although, there is also another very important element of the game that is needed to win, namely defense. Despite their losing record, the Tigers have sustained an adequate defense this season.

They held the Koalas to 43 points on Friday, after Ursuline scored 50 against Irvington and 49 against New Rochelle this season. The Tigers opponents have averaged 51.8 points against them this year. Therefore, with even a satisfactory offense the Lady Tigers should have more than one win this season.

“We do struggle to score but we do make it up in other areas. Our defense is developing into our greatest strength,” evaluated Flooks. “We held them (Ursuline) to under 12 points every quarter and that is pretty good in Class AA basketball,” stressed Flooks.

Inadequate offense is the Lady Tigers dilemma, the bottom-line being; they just do not make shots. They rebound, they hustle, they fight and they play good defense; but they do not make shots and they turn the ball over too much. The Lady Tigers are averaging a dismal 30.7 points per game on offense this season.

One of the reasons for the Lady Tigers erratic play on offense is that they do not have a bona fide point guard directing traffic and setting up plays. This forces all their shooters, including Tess D’Arcy, to create their own shot off the dribble. “We actually do not have a set point guard. We actually keep rotating them. We play three guards and the posts or four guards and a post,” explained Flooks.

D’Arcy and junior forward Shannon Lynch have accurate outside shots from certain spots on the floor, as well as, senior guard Lily Abrue. Therefore, if Flooks could set plays to have these players shoot from certain spots on the court; it might help the Lady Tigers scoring woes. But as Flooks stated, “We do not have a point guard.”

It was a pleasant sight for Flooks to witness her forward Alyssa Ghilardi get into the scoring game against Ursuline. Ghilardi scored 10 points and was a force under the basket. “Alyssa is starting to come into her own. I like what I am seeing from her. She has really taken on that senior captain role,” explained Flooks.

“I think talking more with my coach and gaining an understanding of what I can do on the court for the rest of my team is helping me. Coach has told me that I have to be strong and big in the post,” stated Ghilardi, the Lady Tigers Captain.

Lady Tigers Assistant Coach Amy Ferraro graduated from The Ursuline School in 2007. She played four years with the Koalas from 2003-07. Ferraro and her now Head Coach Flooks were rivals during those years, as Flooks played for White Plains during the same years.

The Tigers versus Ursuline game on Friday was the first time Ferraro coached against her alma mater and the first time she was in the Ursuline Gym, as an opponent of the Koalas. “It was surreal to be back in my old gym, coaching against my former high school coach (Beth Wooters). It was a real proud moment,” said Ferraro.  “I am so glad to have this opportunity and to still be a part of Girls Basketball with the White Plains High School program,” stated the Lady Tigers assistant coach.

A personal note from the author: I thank the White Plains High School and Stepinac High School Athletic Communities, as well as, the Village of Tarrytown and the Office of the Westchester County Executive for their condolences and support concerning the passing of my mother Alyce N. Coqueran, on Saturday, Dec. 29. I also thank the staff of the White Plains Examiner for their condolences, sentiments and unwavering support during this very difficult time for me and my family.

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