CHESTERTOWN-- At the end of last year's season, a group of North Warren Varsity Girls Basketball players pulled off a memorable feat.
In the last few seconds of overtime in a Sectional game against New Lebanon, Junior Laura Fahey grabbed a rebound and passed the ball downcourt to Senior Ashley Schloss, who sank a three-pointer to give North Warren a slim lead - with only three seconds left on the clock. Lindsey Meade, a sophomore, sealed the game with a foul shot.
That true grit, performance under pressure, bodes well for the 2009-10 squad.
Fahey and Meade are back on a Cougar team that features four experienced Seniors, and fans are hoping that this is a year that North Warren will take girls basketball to a new level.
"Our expectations are high," Coach P.J. Hogan said.
Besides Fahey, Seniors on the Cougar team are Katherine "Kat" Andonucci, Sarah Erickson and Kelsey Hamblin.
Fahey possesses outstanding ball handling skills and a strong shot, including from three-point range. Andonucci at center is the second leading scorer from last year's squad besides being an aggressive rebounder.
Hogan added he is expecting strong contributions both offensively and defensively from Erickson and Hamblin.
All four Seniors have considerable athleticism. Andonucci has a background in volleyball, which has given her great court-sense and timing, and both Erickson and Hamblin have proven their speed and athletic instincts as hockey All-Stars.
Junior Lindsey Meade, returning from last year, is a tough inside player, and Junior Morgan Tennyson is also a good ball-handler, he said.
Hogan also has high expectations for Junior Jessica May, who's been in the basketball program for many years, and May's classmate Alana Kilcullen.
The team's two Sophomores, Kiera Warner and Cassie Maday, show promise as they played AAU summer ball this year with three other 10th graders, under the oversight of Junior Varsity Coach Larry Warner.
Thursday, the team demonstrated that Hogan's expectations were on target.
The Cougars battled the scrappy, tenacious Wells, defeating them in a scoring surge in the last 31 seconds, during an exciting come-from behind victory.
Quite a milestone in a girls' basketball program that's been in a rebuilding phase for the last several years at North Warren - which has been struggling with declining enrollment.
"Overall, we have a lot of promise," Hogan said. "But we need improvement, like getting better at putting the ball in the basket."