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To some, November marks the start of the holiday season, but to the Townsend Harris girls varsity basketball team, it is the start of long, vigorous hours spent in the gym. The 2013-2014 season was a historic triumph for the girls. The team played 20 league games in the Queens A West Division, excluding multiple non-league games and tournaments. Throughout the season they were very successful, winning 17 PSAL games, and advancing far into the playoffs. This season, the girls hope to do it all again.
Senior Nicole Gleizer is extremely optimistic about the team’s ability to succeed, saying, “I’m confident that we are going to give all of the other teams a run for their money. We are a hardworking team and we always put up a fight.” Although the team has been one of the most successful in THHS, a lot has changed since their previous seasons.
The team has lost seven players since last season. Five of the seven played at varsity level since freshmen year and were described as vital to the team. They had many years of experience and practice that some of the current members do not have. The seven players were replaced with five new members: three freshmen and two seniors.
Senior Captain Debra Chan said, “The newcomers have such great potential and they are showing fast improvements already so I’m looking forward to see how much they will grow throughout the season. In the case of experience though, the players lost from last season were not adequately replaced.”
One teammate that graduated this last year was one of Townsend Harris’s most valuable athletes, Sierra Berkel. Sierra was the team captain last season and one of the team’s top shooters. Within their PSAL games, she scored a total of 232 points and averaged a 68.182% free throw percentage. Athletic director Mr. Hanson summed up her importance to the team simply stating, “You can’t replace a Sierra.”
Although five of the seven players were replaced, the team is still missing an essential component to the sport of basketball: height. Coach Lauren Caiaccia once described the team as “the smallest team in America.” The members of the team are far shorter than a majority of other teams in their division. Because of this lack of height, re-strategizing their defense and offense has been a necessity.
Athletic director, Mr. Hanson said, “It’s going to be very difficult to match up against a team that has serious height. If we were to go against a team of guards, I think we could match up pretty well; we will match up very well. We’ll do better than their guards. We’re Guard heavy. But you still need big people with big attitude.”
Senior Meralidina Ziljkic believes their lack of height will not put them at a disadvantage. Meraldina said, “I feel that height doesn’t necessarily imply skill in basketball, especially when it comes to our team. Many girls on the team are versatile because they can play in many positions and still thrive. We have great shooters on our team, which makes me feel that we can do just as well this season as we did the last season.”
Though the bar has been set quite high, the Hawks are headed in the right direction. They played their first away game at Richmond Hill on Monday, December 2nd. They started their season off on a high note, defeating Richmond Hill by 50 points.