I am fortunate to have led girls’ basketball for the last 10 years at St John’s and in this time, we have had some great success, along with some disappointment too. However, I am a big believer that success should not simply be measured by the win/loss column but more importantly, by the qualities and the character of the people involved.
This year’s team, exudes character. Fiercely determined, creative, relentless and united, are all words that could describe this team. They are not this way by chance, but instead due to the legacy that has been built over time by past teams and their respective players. In particular, three of our current players and leaders, who have been part of our program, since Year 7; Year 12 students Maddy Hornabrook, Steph Whitman and Mikayla Tatarelli. Together, these girls have ensured we were a force to be reckoned with; Maddy with her dynamic offensive skills, killer cross over, athleticism and passion on the floor, Steph for her sweet assists, corner jump shot, leadership and composure, and Miki for her uncanny ability to out-rebound, out-score and out-hustle much bigger and stronger opponents every game, through her savvy basketball IQ and athleticism.
This year our team entered the Open A division of the SSSSA Knock Out Basketball competition, which meant that we would compete against the best schools in the State. Many of these teams were filled with Year 11 and 12 students that were State representatives or club players.
After a strong Term 1 of play in the IGSSA Open A competition and our clean sweep at the Anglican Cup and Hume Grammar, this team was up for the challenges that were to come.
The team consisted of Year 12 students; Maddy Hornabrook, Steph Whitman, Mikayla Tatarelli and Zoe Butters (out), Year 11 students; Tamika May, Ella Betterman and Maddie Richter (out), Year 9 students; Phoebe Coombes and Marni Porter-Wright and Year 8 student; Ella Behrndt.
We faced both Mercedes College and Sacred Heart College, with only one team able to progress through to the State Finals. After watching Mercedes narrowly defeat Sacred Heart, we went into our first game against Mercedes knowing that it was a ‘must win’ game. We were considerably smaller but relentlessly stuck to our game plan. We competed for every ball and startled both Mercedes and Sacred Heart (who were watching from the sidelines) with our clear intent and quality execution. Unfortunately some slick shooting in the final quarter, put the game just beyond our reach, eventually going down to Mercedes by 10 points. Mikayla top scored with 11 points.
With no time to spare, our battle weary team of eight, suited up again, ready for our encounter with Sacred Heart; pride the main thing at stake. After a slow start, that certainly reflected the back-to-back games and how much effort we had expelled in the first game, our girls responded and ensured they could leave the Somerton Park stadium with heads held high. Steph Whitman’s final quarter was certainly one for the highlights reel, rolling off a collection of assists that threaded the needle spectacularly each time. Fittingly, Mikayla, Maddy and Steph equal top scored in this final game, each with 8 points.
Although our basketball program will dearly miss the flair, competitive spirit and amazing talent of our Year 12 students, we have had a glimpse into our future, with the talent of Phoebe, Marni and Ella, all still Middle School students, stepping up and going toe to toe with much older, stronger and more experienced opposition.
To Maddy, Steph, Miki and also Zoe; a big thank you for your commitment and dedication to our school’s basketball program over many years.
A big thank you to Head of Sport, Brooke Watson for her support on the day and the ongoing support of her and fellow Head of Sport, Paul Travis.
(Open A Girls’ Basketball Coach)