The J. Taylor Finley Middle School eighth grade girls’ basketball team came within a few points of perfection. The Falcons compiled a 7-1 mark in what the coach called an “incredible” season.
Finley was simply splendid, winning its first seven games without a loss, before falling in the final contest, 31-28. But that one blemish isn’t about to take the shine off when of the best years in Falcon basketball history.
“We had an incredible season,” head coach Timothy Madden said. “I am most proud of this team’s work ethic and coachability. Each day, this team improved as individuals and as a team. Each athlete contributed to our success. We finished four points away from an undefeated season. The loss did not take away from a truly unbelievable season.”
The 14-player squad was captained by Gianna Petrone and Caroline Gorecki. The roster also included seventh graders Abigail Baade, Laurel Bonn, Ava Brandine, Gianna Forte, Margaret Morrisroe, Emma O’Brien and Asyria Rios and eighth graders Ashley Genao, Mackenzie McManus, Grace Stolfa, Tennia Strickland and April Swanson.
The team’s top players included Forte (point guard; averaged four points per game), McManus (guard; six points per game) and Petrone (forward; four points per game).
“Gianna Forte competes at a high level all the time in both practice and games,” Madden said. “She has an incredible work ethic and quality leadership skills. Gianna’s defense, intelligence and fearlessness was an important part of our success.”
McManus and Petrone were also praised for their sharp play. “Mackenzie is a good shooter who finishes well around the basket,” Madden said. “Gianna Petrone is a multi-talented basketball player who played tough and worked hard.”
Huntington claimed victories over Deer Park (26-11 and 39-15), Lindenhurst (23-21 and 39-21), West Hollow (34-9) and Babylon-Orange (21-15 and 16-8).
The highlight of the season came in an early season two-point victory over Lindenhurst. “Caroline Gorecki scored with about 10 seconds left to break a tie and put us ahead,” Madden said. “She crashed the boards, grabbed the rebound and scored. It was a great shot under a lot of pressure.”
Madden was very happy with the players on his team. “This group of athletes will continue to experience success because of the positive intangibles they possess,” he said. “It’s a team that works hard, plays for each other, is coachable and fearless and will be tough to beat. I am proud to have coached this group and wish them the best as they move up to the high school.”