Lady Chargers growing, improving with each passing game

Keri Mirabelli, Correspondent

The St. Joseph Varsity Lady Charger basketball season is in full swing with some exciting play in both conference and non-conference play.  The team has four leaders returning from last year’s Regional championship team and some young new players that have joined the team and are contributing nicely in both offensive and defensive play.

The beginning of the season has had its share of struggles with injuries, a short bench, and an overall young team, but has also seen some solid victories.

Seniors Hannah Boykin-Williams and Jade Link have shown their experience and leadership in keeping the team moving forward as the team has come together on the court.  Returning Sophomores Keri Mirabelli and Nessa Walsh have also brought strong defense and shooting to add power to the team.

While the team’s record does not reflect their successes, they have shown aggressive play in each game and have shown their strengths in both offense and defense.  In each of their losses, the 2nd quarter has been their most challenging and has cost them their biggest deficits making recovery difficult in the 2nd half of the games.

The Chargers also have had turnover problems that have made the comebacks that much more difficult to achieve. The growth and cohesiveness are stressed during practices and with a short bench, endurance has been a focus since there is not a lot of opportunity for rest during fast moving games.

That hard work and effort came together in the team’s 2nd conference win against the St. Laurence Vikings on Dec. 13.  The team never lost the lead and won the game 49-43.   Top scorers were Boykin-Williams and Mirabelli with an all-around game by Link, Walsh and new players Sisi Gomez and Ciara Banks, both of whom are sophomores, as well.

Also, the Chargers topped Immaculate Conception on Dec. 19 in a non-conference matchup.

Reflecting on the start of the season, Coach Drew Winston stated, “The team is progressing well (and) although we’re losing right now, our record doesn’t reflect the success of our season. Our only weakness is our inexperience.  Regardless of skill all the girls work hard.”

Coach Drew is in his 5th season as head coach with St. Joe’s.

During his tenure at St. Joseph, the team has won three conference titles, four straight regional championships, one sectional title, one super sectional title, and one state appearance.  His motto on and off the court is “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard” and he holds his players to a very high standard during both games and practices.

New assistant Coach Mitch Fluker joins the team with many years coaching experience at several different levels.  He is impressed with the talent of the girls and gives this advice to the young team, “Like a caterpillar struggling to escape its cocoon, these struggles will have proven their true worth, when we flex the real beauty of our strength.”

Coach Drew sees his core four returning players as the heart and soul of the team and has seen them assume the lead roles in most situations.  “I see us as finishing 2nd or 3rd in the conference,” he said.

The Lady Chargers will travel to Guerin Prep for their Christmas Tournament and will return in January with a full schedule of conference and non-conference play.