Soaring To New Heights

Photo By Robin Weinstein

The New Paltz Women’s Basketball team has seen nothing but net this season as they rallied to achieve a 16-2 overall record.

The team has outscored its opponents by an average of 6.2 points and Head Coach Jamie Seward attributes their strong play to a mixture of factors, including the group’s attitude toward losing.

“From the very beginning of practice this team has come to play every single day,” Seward said. “Combine that with the fact that we have a very talented and competitive group who hate to lose, that’s why we have had a strong start.”

Also contributing to their record is the dedication players illustrated before the season started. During the offseason, the team participated in a number of pick-up games and held track workouts three to four times a week. Over the summer, players who lived near each other got together to work out.

Though the team is relatively young, Seward believes fourth-years Alex McCullough, Maliqua Fisher and Kahsyrah Bryant “have provided outstanding leadership.”

Fisher said her role as co-captain allows her to lead by example. She also feels that being a source of encouragement for the younger players gives them confidence in their abilities and creates a symbiotic relationship.

“When I’m down I need them just as much as when they’re down, they need me,” Fisher said. “We all look out for one another.”

Co-captain McCullough, who leads the team in points per game with 10.2, realizes that their record will force them to work harder as they are now positioned as the team to beat.

“As a team we need to realize we are now the team that everyone wants to beat, so we have to work harder and harder and stick together as one, which we have done a very good job with,” McCullough said.

Third-year Jeanette Scott is another player who Seward acknowledged as an experienced role player on the team. She recorded her first career double-double against SUNY Oswego with 12 points and 10 rebounds, which led to a 56-53 win. She said she, along with her teammates, value these contributions no matter how small.

“I didn’t even realize it during the game but it did feel good,” Scott said. “It always feels good to know that you helped your team to get a big win in some way, whether it shows up on the stat sheet or not.”

Second-year point guard Shannan Walker’s rookie season was cut short after suffering an ACL tear. She was able to redshirt and is technically a freshman on the team. Walker said working on her confidence has been a priority this season and credits her coach for helping her do just that.

“Every day I have to work on being confident that my knee won’t hold me back,” Walker said. “My coach has helped me find my role on the team again and gave me the confidence to resume my role as a leader on the court.”

Though Seward and the players had slightly different responses as to how they could improve their play, rebounding and maintaining a strong first half are aspects they all agreed on.

Growth and improvement have been part of  Seward’s plan since the beginning of the season and an almost perfect record does not change that plan.

“Our goal was never to go unbeaten,” Seward said. “Our goal all along has been to continue to get better every day, win the SUNYAC Championship, be an incredibly tough out in the NCAA Tournament and play our very best game in the last game of the season.”