The record-breaking 2013-14 North Warren Junior Varsity Girls Basketball team includes (front row): Sidney Gagnon, Alyssa Dewar, Hannah Kenney, Sarah Stewart, Cate Hill, Samantha Rogers, (back row): Brooke French, Cheyenne Dingman, Hunter Hitchcock, Toni Agard, Madasyn Bush and Coach Larry Warner. The team finished the season undefeated at 17-0, setting a school record for girls sports. Photo provided
The accomplishments of the 2013-14 North Warren Junior Varsity Girls Basketball team has earned the players a prominent berth in school history.
This is the first girl’s sports team in the history of North Warren High School to go undefeated. The Cougar JV basketball team finished off their season last week with a 17-0 record.
The team outscored their opponents by an average of 20 points, dominating the Adirondack League this year.
No Junior Varsity nor Varsity girls team in any sport at North Warren has ever accomplished an undefeated season since the school was consolidated in 1974 with Brant Lake and Pottersville schools.
This squad has not only set a school record, but they’ve blown past the prior school records with ease.
Earlier this season, the girls surpassed the 2011-12 Junior Varsity team’s record for the most wins in a season — 13 victories.
During this season, the 2013-14 JV squad was pitted against other Adirondack League teams with larger enrollment, but the players’ dedication to the game and commitment to skill development paid off, Coach Larry Warner said March 4.
“They are just a wonderful, hardworking team,” Warner said, noting that most all the players play AAU ball off-season together, taking on teams from schools many times their size — including squads from Saratoga and Albany. “They’ve gone up against incredibly tough competition, but they work hard, never quit, and have fun at it.”
Warner said he first realized the team’s potential about a year ago when he took them to an AAU tournament and they won all four games they played. He said it was the first time in five years since he’s been coaching AAU that one of his team has accomplished that.
“Those wins gave them a taste of what was coming this season, and it indicated to me we’d have something special going on this year,” he said.
From that squad, every girl returned except for Morgan Yarosh, who was drafted into Varsity, Warner said.
“With their experience, it gave me the opportunity to take their defense to higher level and fine-tune their press,” he said.
Warner continued that the girls are game-smart.
“This team can run six different half-court defenses effectively as well as four full-court presses,” he said, noting that referees have come up to him after games and said the young Cougar squad executes the best zone defense they’ve ever seen for their age level.
“They are so skilled and know the different defenses so well, I can switch defenses on the run,” he said. “It’s one reason we could hold our opponents to average 20.7 points per game all season. From the top of the roster to the bottom, every player could effectively pressure each opponent.”
On the other end of the court, the players were also impressive, Warner said, noting the team scored an average of 40 points per game.
“Offensively, the team was so amazing — nobody could put an effective press on them — the girls could break it immediately,” he said.
He said that they starting five players performed so well that many times they could sit out much of the game allowing the bench to get plenty of experience. The result was that every girl played every game, and during the season each one scored points, grabbed rebounds and accomplished steals. The result is a squad with a remarkable depth of talent, he said.
Standout players of the group include Freshman Madasyn Bush who scored 216 rebounds and 216 points, and that’s not a statistical error, Warner said.
“Madasyn dominated the boards,” Warner said. “When we played the stronger teams the second time during the season, they knew what she could do and they focused on her, but she kicked the ball out to her teammates, and they got the job done, hitting jump shots.”
Warner noted that Madasyn was awarded team MVP Monday night at a winter sports awards gala.
Working in tandem with Madasyn was Cougar point guard Cate Hill, who Warner said scored, rebounded and accomplished steals in all 17 games.
“Cate is literally the perfect point guard,” he said. “She’s key to our press-breaker.”
Moreover, she can recognize changes in opponents’ defense as the game is progressing, and she calls substitute plays as appropriate — which Warner said was very unusual at the junior varsity level.
Named Defensive Defensive Player of the Year was Sarah “Rabbit” Stewart, who also tallied an impressive record, Warner said.
“All the players brought their ‘A game ‘to the floor every single time for 17 games, and that’s tough to do,” he said. “It is great to see how thoroughly they learned the game and how well they put it together on the court.”
Each one of the 11 players of the 2013-14 Junior Varsity Girls Basketball team contributed their part to the squad’s historic achievements, Warner said.
“For a small D school, the team has achieved an amazing accomplishment,” he said. “I’m really proud of the girls.”