By Emma Carr and Olivia Byrnes
“We’re one big family,” said freshman Angela Bussone of the Jamesville-Dewitt High School Varsity Girls Basketball team, who have grown very close this season. The 21-2 team has come off of winning their sectional championship and their regional championship, beating first Franklin High School and then Averill Park High School. They then advanced to the state semifinals where they won over Harborfields 44-30, but lost in the state championship to Pittsford Sutherland, 41-57. “I was sad, but we were proud of our accomplishments,” said senior Kara Gantos.
The two co-captains, juniors Alyssa Robens and Maddy Frank, were both important players that led the team to this season’s success. “I love that the team looks up to us and listen to what we say, but it’s nice because we are not dictators and they can do what they want,” says Robens. “I know we have to set an example because we have such young players on the team and I have to be a good leader with my words and my actions,” said Frank. News Channel 9 also recognized the importance and leadership of the co-captains by nominating them both for Athlete of the Week. “It was a great honor, and it was really great that we were nominated together because we are the co-captains,” said Frank. “We both worked really hard and I’m glad we were nominated together because there was no competition,” said Robens. “Whenever we are struggling they help us out,” said Bussone of the duo. “They don’t yell at me for making mistakes; they cheered for me no matter what,” said eighth grader Kasey Vaughn.
They were not the only leaders, however. Sophomore Carly O’Hern scored 27 out of their 47 points in their sectional title game against Whitesboro High School. “It was awesome to be able to do that for my team,” said O’Hern. “When we guard each other in practice, (O’Hern) will push me around and help me use new techniques that I can use in the next game,” said eighth grader Meg Hair.
The team not only has their leaders to help them stay on top, but their coach, Rob Siechen, also plays a big part in their wins. The whole team agrees that he is a huge motivator for the girls. “Before big games, he helps us scout the good players and learn their defense,” said senior Kara Gantos. “He helped the guards and the posts every day during practice,” said Robens. For the state semi-final game against Harborfields High School the team watched tapes and tried to gain an understanding for the personnel on the team. “He helped us practice really hard and stay focused,” said Frank of Coach Siechen. “He will always help me become a better player,” said Hair. “He taught me to play like every game is my last game,” said Vaughn. “He has helped me mentally a lot, so that I don't get down on myself,” said Bussone. “He sets a good example for the team and he is very strategy-oriented, which helps us make good decisions in games,” said Frank.
This team made it to states, but they had some tough games to get there. They lost twice to AA teams, Nottingham High School and Fayetteville-Manlius High School. “We definitely could’ve won (both games). We were at an equal skill level, but our caliber was off,” said Bussone. After coming off these two losses they won against another AA team, West Genesee High School, boosting their confidence level. “We think those two (losses) were flukes, and we just wanted to put it behind us,” said sophomore Melissa Murphy.
Throughout the season the team had individual goals and team goals. A common team goal was to make it to sectionals and maybe even states, which they achieved. "I wanted to develop as a player and help lead the team. I think I’ve accomplished both of those and anything else beyond that was icing on the cake,” said Frank. The team also owes it’s wins to their strong bond. “They’re my favorite team yet,” said Robens and she can’t wait to play with the girls again next season.
They are only losing two seniors, so this young team will strive for states again next year. “We are definitely all looking forward to next year because we have a lot of talent and I think we will go far. But the seniors will be missed greatly,” said Bussone.