Girls varsity basketball wins a nailbiter to stay alive

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After the girls varsity basketball team won by double digits in the first round of the PSAL “A” Division playoffs, the Hawks hosted the Mott Haven Educational Campus Mavericks at the Wanda Nix Gymnasium on February 26th in the second round. The Hawks started off strong and held back a late game comeback by the Mavericks to win 41-38 in a very defensive minded game.


Coach Lauren Caiaccia said, “We have tremendous individual talent that thrives off the positive energy we create as a team.”

The Hawks’ starting five for this playoff game was seniors forward Sierra Berkel, forward Vasia Makris, guard Michelle Gan and juniors guard Debra Chan, and guard Natalie Gomez. The opening tip of the game went to the Mavericks, but that was pretty much the only good point of their first quarter. The Hawks absolutely dominated the first quarter, ending it with a 21-9 lead. The Hawks’ scored over half of their points in this quarter and were impeccable on defense. They forced ten turnovers while only giving up three, and they also only committed two fouls in the first. The second quarter was completely taken over by the defense of both teams as the Hawks outscored the Mavericks 5-4. Each team forced seven turnovers from their opponent, with three fouls being committed by the Hawks and none by the Mavericks. The first half ended with the Hawks holding an impressive 26-13 lead.

Vasia said, “We had some good moments and played strong the first half.”

However, in the second half, the Mavericks began to turn it on. They started to come back in the third quarter by outscoring the Hawks 14-10, making the game 36-27 in the Hawks’ favor. The Hawks did force seven turnovers and were fouled three times as their pressure on the Mavericks continued to force them into mistakes. In the fourth quarter, the Mavericks really turned it on, scoring 11 points and making the game close as the Hawks could only muster five. But, the Mavericks again turned the ball over seven times, and fouled the Hawks five times which put the Hawks in the bonus at the free throw line. The biggest mistake of the game was in the closing seconds,as the Hawks held the ball with a three point lead, and the Mavericks did not foul the Hawks. This would have stopped the clock, but the Mavericks just weren’t able to pull it off, as the game ended with the Hawks celebrating.

Sierra said, “Playing basketball is about being mentally strong, which we accomplished during the game.”

The Hawks’ defense was one of the main reasons they won. They forced 31 turnovers while only committing 18 and were fouled 11 times while only fouling the Mavericks 8 times. The Hawks’ offense, led by Debra who had 18 points including three three-point field goals, played well when they had to, hitting some clutch free throws when they were at the line. Sierra also got yet another double-double, and Natalie picked up three assists showing her unselfishness. The Hawks picked up 26 rebounds, 14 of them on the offensive glass. The girls played very gritty basketball, and their effort showed on the court.

With this victory, the Hawks have advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs, where they lost in last year’s playoffs. This year, the Hawks will play on Wednesday, March 5th at 5:00 pm against the Port Richmond High School Raiders from Staten Island. With a win, the Hawks will advance to their first semi-finals in years, and will move one step closer to the championship.

Coach Caiaccia said, “The key to success for this game as it has been for each of our games this season will be to do the little things.”

Vasia said, “We have a tough game coming up but if we play our game we can definitely win.”