Sharp shooting and great defense helped propel the J. Taylor Finley Middle School girls’ basketball team coached by Timothy Madden to a 6-4 mark this past season.
Finley was led by guards Emma O’Brien, Megan Donaghy, Theresa Rivera and Neha Rathore and forward Hope Bilkey. O’Brien and Rivera captained the 15 player squad.
“Emma O’Brien has a great work ethic and is also an incredible leader,” Madden said. “Her effort level was always off the charts.”
Donaghy shined, too. “Megan always competes at a high level,” Madden said. “She did a great job at the point guard position.”
Rivera played a role in lifting the team to several close victories. “Theresa is a high energy, aggressive point guard who finishes well at the rim,” Madden said.
Bilkey proved her worth on both ends of the court. “Hope is a tough and competitive athlete who improved greatly throughout the season.”
Rathore fit in perfectly with Finley’s talented cast of players. “Neha is a well-rounded basketball player who worked hard each day and had a great season,” Madden said.
Finley topped West Hollow (34-26 and 31-19), Babylon (39-23 and 41-21) and Lindenhurst (40-13 and 31-23) and dropped two games each to Candlewood and Commack.
“We had a great season,” Madden said. “I am most proud of this team’s ability to execute on game day what we practiced. Each day this team improved as individuals and as a team. Each one of the girls contributed to our success. This group of athletes will continue to experience success because of their great work ethic. I am proud to have coached this group and wish them the best as they move up to the high school.”
In addition to the top five players, who were all eighth graders, Finley’s roster also included seventh graders Kayleigh Bender, Tess Calabria, Jane Callery, Jazmyne Greene, Marley Joseph, Jessica Kuom, Riley Murtagh, Reese Rinaldi, Maya Sakellarios and Mia Thompson.
The highlight of the season came in the final game against Lindenhurst. “We were down by four in the fourth quarter,” Madden recalled. “Megan Donaghy and Hope Bilkey scored to force overtime. In the overtime period, Neha Rathore scored four points, Kayleigh Bender scored two and Megan helped seal the win with a free throw. Neha finished with a team high 10 points. Lindenhurst didn’t score in the overtime period! It was a game that showcased this team’s resiliency and mental toughness.”