The White Plains High School Girls Basketball Team has made the Section 1 AA Playoffs this year. It is the first time that the Lady Tigers will compete in postseason competition, since the departure of legendary Head Coach Sue Adams, after the 2011-12 season.
The Tigers recorded a 9-7 record after their loss to Ursuline Academy on Friday, at White Plains High School. “The fact that we are hitting over .500 is good for us. That is where we want to be (at this time) and only to continue to get better,” said second-year Head Coach Tara Flaherty.
Flaherty has taken her young squad, which includes four freshmen, to the Section 1 AA Playoffs. Furthermore, as high school basketball fans are aware; anything can happen if the Tigers get a good seed by winning their last two games of the regular season.
Depending on the weather, the Tigers play Scarsdale High School, in Scarsdale, for their second contest this season, on Tuesday, Feb. 3. The Tigers were defeated by the Raiders, the number 13 ranked team in New York State, in their first match-up this season, 49-30, on January 14, at White Plains High School.
The Tigers will close out their 2014-15 campaign with “Senior Day” when they host Section 1 rival Mamaroneck High School, on Thursday, Feb. 5, at 4:15 p.m.
The Tigers jumped out to a good start against one of the best teams in Section 1, Ursuline Academy (12-3, 8-1 AA), leading, 16-9, at 4:00 minutes of the second quarter. But a few bad shots and defensive lapses let the Koalas back in the game.
When Ursuline’s Rianna Peduzzi hit a two-point jumper at the end of the first half, the scoreboard read, 25-21, with the Koalas leading by four points. “I was not surprised at all, not at all, the way White Plains came out to start the game,” said Ursuline legendary Head Coach Beth Wooters. “They are a good team and this is their house, you never underestimate White Plains in their house,” said Wooters.
Nonetheless, the Tigers maintained their composure and battled the Koalas, while staying within three points at the end of the third quarter, 36-33. But it was the fourth quarter that sealed the Tigers fate, while they only produced five total points in the quarter compared to the Koalas 16 points and lost the game 50-38. “That was the game. We changed some things on defense a little bit and the girls stepped it up and we controlled the boards,” commented Wooters.
It may have been more difficult for Ursuline to control the boards, if Tigers senior center Isabella Lacarbonara did not have to play the entire fourth quarter with four fouls. Lacarbonara went to the bench with her fourth foul with 3:54 remaining in the third quarter.
In fact, the Tigers finished the game with four players with four fouls, including Lacarbonara, senior “enforcer” Jocelyn Sanchez, three-point ace Kathleen Rooney and senior leader guard Kaleigh D’Arcy.
Moreover, the Tigers were without the services of energetic freshman guard Tatyana Mitchell, who has missed the last five games due to injury. “We are hoping Tatyana gets back to us this week so we can have her make an impact and get ready for the playoffs. She is an extra six to ten points a game,” commented Flaherty.
However, regardless of the Tigers shortcomings against Ursuline, it seemed nothing would have stopped Koalas junior Casey Friend from scoring in the game. Friend had a game-high 27 points, with 14 points in the first half. “I shot well tonight from the outside and taking the ball to the basket. It was a great team win,” said Friend, who was complemented offensively by Anna Savino, who had 11 points and 13 rebounds in the game.
Flaherty and her coaching staff of assistants Amy Ferraro and Spencer Smith have created a buzz at White Plains High School surrounded their young ambitious Lady Tigers team with their over achieving 9-7 record.
However, Flaherty understands that the Lady Tigers cannot go into the Section 1 Playoffs while only producing five points in any fourth quarter of any game. “Turnovers to be honest that is what we were discussing as a coaching staff after the game: what happened? We threw the ball away and we had travels and missed a few defensive opportunities,” emphasized Flaherty.
But Flaherty saw something in the manner her team played against their archrivals Ursuline, in the first three quarters of the game. And that is the style of play they need to take into the Section 1 Playoffs. “No, I am not surprised because I know exactly what my players can do. It was fantastic to come out against Ursuline and do it, one of the top teams in our league,” said Flaherty.