SPRINGFIELD – This year’s Watertown girls basketball team rose to heights never reached by the program and will leave a legacy, but it did not feel that way for the players after falling to Longmeadow in the MIAA Div. 2 State Final on Saturday.
The 2015-16 Raiders squad went farther than any girls basketball team before them, and had an eight point second half lead before falling 36-31.
When asked what her memories will be of this season, senior co-captain Michaela Antonellis said: “It’s going to be good. It sucks right now.”
With the tears still fresh after the loss, senior co-captain Katelyn Rourke added that she and her teammates have left their mark.
“It’s good to leave a legacy. No team has come this far,” Rourke said. “Now that we have, they aren’t going to say, ‘Oh, they lost in the state championship.’ They are going to to say the team went this far, and no Watertown team had done that.”
Watertown Head Coach Patrick Ferdinand said his players got them into the position they wanted – and 29-21 lead with 3:29 left in the third quarter. The team could not execute offensively after that, and had a few balls roll around the rim and fall out. Ferdinand said the team did not settle itself down in the frantic fourth quarter
“When you start to attack the basket you don’t slow yourself down you don’t see what’s going to happen. Those became one-and-done. Those possessions kill you,” Ferdinand said. “On other side (the Lancers) weren’t one-and-done because they created contact, got rebounds and got to put it up again. Those were those things they were able to do a little more than we were. Credit to them.”
A question that can never be answered is how Watertown would have fared had senior co-captain Nicole Lanzo been able to play in the final. She hurt her knee in the state semifinal and was unavailable Saturday. Ferdinand said she has had a positive impact on the Raiders this year.
“Nicole’s injury – number one, so much of our heart is her,” Ferdinand said. “She is a great rebounder. She’s tough. She has a really good jump shot. She is also offensively, never trying to do too much. She is always following the plan.”
This Raiders team will not just leave a legacy due to their play on the court, Ferdinand said, they also made their mark on the town.
“Them winning games is important, but they have left such a legacy with youth in the community, as far as the clinic work they do and working with them. That speaks of community and them caring,” Ferdinand said. “There may be down the point down the line we get back here again. The little kids in the stands watching all these seniors and kids do something special (today) and it makes them want to do their part as well.”
The Raiders finish the season with a record of 21-4. The team went 76-18 during the seniors’ four years, including 21 wins in each of the last three years and they won two North Section titles.