Girls' Varsity Basketball
vs Hotchkiss School
Score/Result: 58-50 W
Saturday, February 23, 2013
- This day was dedicated to Taft girls' varsity basketball past and present. The contributions of the Big Red's four seniors--Shelby Meckstroth, Morgan Manz, Maggie O'Neil and Katie Harpin--were acknowledged before and at the very start of the game. And at halftime, the 29 year head girls' basketball coaching tenure of Dick Cobb, who is retiring from Taft this spring, was celebrated. Varsity players from the 1970s, '80s, '90s and early '00s were on hand to pay tribute to their former coach and legendary schoolmaster.
- The Hotchkiss and Taft head coaches had agreed ahead of time that each team would allow the other's injured seniors to score or assist on a basket to begin the game, thereby ending their careers contributing, in uniform. So after Hotchkiss' Danielle Jacobs passed to Claire Miles for a lay-up while Taft's "defenders" looked on, the Bearcats permitted Harpin to put one in at the other end. Considering the intense rivalry between these two schools and the fact that they had battled in such a heated contest--ending in narrow Hotchkiss victory--just two weeks prior in Lakeville, it was a memorable display of sportsmanship and mutual respect.
- Then, in keeping with the home team's script, Taft played its best half of the season to open up a 15-point halftime lead against the visitors. But Hotchkiss came out of the locker room with drastically increased defensive intensity and promptly went on a 13-2 run to open the second half. A Morgan Manz 3 and two Chelsea Robinson free throws finally curbed the Bearcats' momentum and restored the Rhinos' confidence midway through the half, but the Taft lead was cut to three points on two occasions. It wasn't until O'Neil and Manz stuck 3-pointers on consecutive trips with under four minutes to play that the Taft lead felt even marginally safe. But even after that point, Hotchkiss--and especially junior guard Joey Coffy, who finished with a game-high 32 points--scrapped until the final buzzer sounded. The inside play of Chelsea Robinson (14 points, seven rebounds) and Rylie Mainville (eight rebounds), the outside shooting of O'Neil (four 3-balls and 14 points), and the all-around play of Manz (24 points, seven boards, four assists) keyed the victory. But Hotchkiss clearly served notice that their win of two weeks ago was no fluke, and that the long era of Taft's girls' varsity basketball dominance over the Bearcats has likely come to an end.
- The Rhinos closed their regular season with two five-game winning streaks sandwiched around that first Hotchkiss defeat. Over the ten-for-eleven stretch, Taft avenged losses not just to Hotchkiss but also to Berkshire, Kent and Loomis. This despite losing four-year varsity stalwart and tri-captain Katie Harpin to season-ending injury in early January. After a 2-7 start, the 2012-'13 team committed to playing better defense, worked hard on their skills in practice, adjusted their offensive roles, and began to trust one another more and more -- and the result was a significantly stronger team. Thank you to our dedicated posse of parents for showing up to seemingly every game (even Wednesday afternoon games at far-flung locales!). Special thanks to Art and Laura Manz, Dan and Sandy O'Neil, and Bill and Dawn Harpin for their deep and abiding commitment to their daughters and the program.
- Finally, for the third straight year, Taft girls' varsity basketball has qualified for the Class A New England Playoff Tournament. The team, seeded at #7, faces Rivers School, the #2 seed, at 3:30 this coming Wednesday at Rivers.
Coaches Willson and Petersen