The season ended miles from home for the Watertown High School girls basketball team when they fell at Amesbury in the State Tourney, and suddenly a long journey they had taken together ended. But the four year trek was a successful one.
WHS girls basketball head coach Patrick Ferdinand said the end of the season is always hard, and this year’s group of five seniors helped reestablish Watertown as a team to reckon with. When they were sophomores, Watertown only won one game, but they not only qualified for the tournament in their junior and senior years, but won a game each year.
“I think we won one more game than year before, and we had won versus a higher rank team in the Tournament, going out to their gym,” Ferdinand said. “We played teams better than we did last year. We didn’t win many more games, but did good job closing the court down. Games that were blowouts last year weren’t this year.”
Ferdinand didn’t want the last conversation with the team to be right after the season-ending loss.
“We had program meeting two days later where we invite the players to talk about the seniors on our terms,” Ferdinand said.
Last week, the five seniors — Milagros Ortiz, Brittany Catsoulis, Annabella Beck, Brianna Williams and Ashely Shaughnessy — participated in what has become a tradition in Watertown.
“We have a board at back of locker room whee we put plaques with their name on them,” Ferdinand said. “When they graduate, they take their name off, and hopefully have a little memento. The will have that with them.”
Saying goodbye is tough as a coach, Ferdinand said, having spent six days a week with them during the season at practices, games and watching game video.
“You want to go as far as you can go, but there is only so far you can go,” Ferdinand said. “Coaching a certain group of kids and then you no longer have that — it is difficult for us as coaches that it is done.”
Ferdinand said this senior class put in a lot of work and reached their potential.
“Every player, when they were freshmen, wasn’t sure if they would play varsity basketball,” Ferdinand said. “They competed, they were willing to get tough, they were coachable and worked hard.”
He hopes they set an example for the younger players. The seniors not only worked hard at practice, they also came in before school to practice shootin, and worked out in the off season.
“As coach, you have to have hope that those kids will do the work off season, like the current varsity, and do the hard work and buckled down,” Ferdinand said.
They also had some words of wisdom for the younger players. They recommended putting the work in when they are young, so that they don’t feel like they could have done more to prepare for when they get their shot at playing time, Ferdinand said.
Despite losing three seniors who started this year, Ferdinand said the Raiders have potential next year. The team has some young talented players, including current sophomores Taylor Lambo. For the second straight year, the forward was named a Middlesex League All-Star. She continued to score for Watertown, and also improved her decision making and was able to defend against all positions.
“She really had some monster games down the stretch for us,” Ferdinand said.
In a small town like Watertown, Ferdinand first gets to know players when they are in fourth or fifth grade. The varsity players volunteer to work with the Watertown Youth Basketball program, which teaches them the game early and gives the young players an inspiration to shoot for.
Ferdinand said he was proud not only for what the seniors accomplished on the court, but for the kind of people the are.
“The kids walked away with memories and walked away knowing that they were part of a good four year run,” Ferdinand said. “Their juniors and senior year they ended up going to the second round of tournament for two years in a row. Looking back they should be proud and most importantly they were really good kids, real class act kids.”