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The girls varsity basketball entered the playoffs as the third seed after finishing the regular season with a record of 15-1 and winning the Queens A West Division. Their first matchup was against the thirtieth seeded Susan Wagner Falcons from Staten Island on February 14th in the Wanda Nix Gymnasium. In their 65-53 win, the Hawks have taken the first step towards returning to the final four for the second consecutive season.
Senior forward Sierra Berkel said, “I think Friday was one of the best games we’ve played. We played together and with aggressiveness and the mentality that this is it.”
Throughout the season the Hawks have been quick to establish a lead in the first quarter. However, the Falcons would take an earlier 13-12 lead following the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Hawks started to turn it on, outscoring the Falcons 20-10. Entering halftime, the Hawks had a 32-23 lead, a lead that the Hawks would not relinquish. In the third quarter, the Hawks’ would again be outscored 14-13 but the Hawks would hold off the Falcons in the fourth quarter by outscoring them by four points.
Junior guard Meraldina Ziljkic said, “With the 5 p.m. start, we were able to complete our routine warmups and I think that’s what kept me in rhythm throughout the game.”
In their twelve point win, the Hawks were carried by their two scorers, senior captain Sierra Berkel and junior Debra Chan. Sierra posted an impressive double-double by securing 16 rebounds, five more than the entire Wagner team, and scoring 26 points.
Sierra said, “I just come out and try to stay hype and aggressive into every game, and assume the role that my team needs whether it be making good passes or taking it to the basket or grabbing rebounds.”
Debra set a new career playoff high with 24 points, which is nine points more than she averaged during the regular season.
The two prove to be a potent tandem, Sierra provides solid play in the post and Debra hits jump shots from both inside and outside the three point arch.
The past three playoffs have proved to be struggles for the Hawks, as they have never made it to the semifinals and only have posted a 3-3 record in playoff games despite their consistently impressive play during the regular season.
Sierra said, “There are losses that we still remember and that we are not letting define us.”
Senior Nicole Tan felt that during the playoffs “there’s greater pressure to surpass our normal standards and to put everything on the line.” Despite any struggles that may beset the team follows the words of coach Caiaccia to take it “one shot at a time.”
Currently the Hawks next opponent is unknown but they will either face Mott Haven Educational Campus or Fiorello Laguardia in a home game sometime after the Mid-Winter Recess. Because of they were seeded third, they will have a home court advantage until the semifinals and the advantage was evident as the seats were full of supporting students and parents.
Nicole was thrilled to have such a showing, “It was awesome to see Townsend Harris students supporting each other and the crowd really hyped us up.”
Debra said, “I honestly believe that we can go far this year.”