Unselfishness seems to be the key word this season for the St. John Paul II girls’ basketball team.
Sure, there are some players key to the defensive boards and others relied upon for their offensive ability. However, the success of the team this season comes down to how each player has fit into her role for the good of the squad.
For coach Gus Adams, new to the school but certainly not new to basketball on Cape Cod, he is most impressed by his players who are multi-sport athletes.
“I love those multi-sport kids. Sometimes it takes half a season to get them up to speed with their skills, but they’re athletes,” he said. “In a small school like this, when you have multi-sport athletes, the kids need to find their niche and buy in.”
A veteran coach, Adams spent nine years as girls’ coach at Falmouth Academy, coached the boys’ team at Falmouth High under coach Paul Lundberg, and ran the travel program and AUU in Falmouth.
Assisting Adams this season is last year’s head coach, Pat Van Cott.
“Pat has been terrific, and he knows the girls,” said Adams, who is familiar with the Lions sports program, having worked with former athletic director Mark Santos as a personal trainer with Santos’ baseball teams in the past. “Pat and I look at things and think a lot alike. It helps to have someone who already knows the kids.”
The Lions returned a trio of experienced captains in Melissa Van Cott, Cait Mehl and Marie Carney, while the squad was bolstered by junior Skylar Gonsalves – a transfer from Falmouth High – and high-scoring freshman Maggie Crofford.
“I’m very happy with the defensive effort, especially, and that’s what we have to build our team around,” Adams continued. “We’re not always a great offensive team yet, but hopefully that will develop in time.”
Melissa Van Cott has shown outstanding leadership, according to the coach.
“She really sets the tone. She can handle the ball, play the point as well as inside, and she usually covers the other team’s best player,” he said. “She plays both ends of the court well and is very unselfish.”
The Lions senior said she’s just as happy dishing off the ball as she is shooting it.
“I take pride in my passing, and I guess I’m known for my assists,” she said. “They call me Mother Teresa out there when I’m not shooting but giving Skyler passes down low.”
Gonzales has been a two-way force on the floor, “usually an automatic double-double every night,” said Adams of his 6’1″ junior. “She has to play the entire games and never sacrifices on the defensive end. She always gives full effort on defense off the boards, and she’s also an unselfish passer, too.”
While Gonzales realized teams frequently key on her, she is always willing to find an open player.
“When people come and double me, I can kick it out to the wing, and we can score from there,” she said. “We all love to share the ball and look for opportunities when they’re there, but when they’re not, we give someone else a try.”
Another player getting her shot on offense has been freshman Crofford who is frequently in double-figures. Adams also noted junior Sarah LoPiccolo “has picked up her game,” as well as sophomore Alex Palmer, a soccer player, who “is very intense with good offensive skills.”
Senior captain Cait Mehl and Van Cott have been splitting time at point guard.
“I think our defense has been driving our offense, it always has,” she said. “This year it’s been going really well.”
The other senior captain, Marie Carney, has made the move from point guard to shooting guard.
“Our defense has been carrying us a lot this year, and we also have new height with Skylar,” she said. “I switch off to wherever I’m needed. We’re really good at passing the ball around to whoever has the best shot. Even our bench has chipped in to help this year.”
Juniors Ashleigh Reen and Ashlyn Enright, sophomores Kellyn Taylor and Kendal O’Brien, and eighth-grader Ella Bartolomei have all contributed to the success of the team.
With a 12-2 overall record and a spot already in the South Sectional tournament, the Lions are looking to keep improving their seed and possibly gain a couple of home games in the playoffs.
Mike Richard can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.