By Neel Thakkar
A door opened for the girls’ basketball team on Thursday night, and with it a path to a sectional championship, a destination not reached since 1989. It came as the Knights beat Stevenson to claim the regional championship – for the second straight year – and as upstart Barrington beat state-ranked powerhouse Wheeling, the only team in Prospect’s way that the Knights hadn’t beaten.
On Monday night against Barrington, though, the door closed once again. In a reversal, Prospect lost to the Broncos 42-30, despite beating them early last month 35-28.
“It didn’t matter that we had already beaten them,” coach Martha Kelly said.
Energized by the win against Wheeling, the Barrington team came out strong and put Prospect behind from the start. Though the Knights resurfaced briefly in the second quarter, going up 13-11, the Broncos took command from there, leading the rest of the way. Prospect was revitalized after the half and cut Barrington’s lead to two points with as little as three minutes to go in the game, but only to see Barrington storm back.
There were a few different explanations for the loss: junior Sarah Winans – the team’s highest scorer – was injured and Barrington plays a unique style of defense (matchup zone) the Knights encounter only two or three times a year.
The most important explanation, however, was what junior Marissa Pettenuzzo, as well as Kelly, called the team’s “passivity.”
“We didn’t take opportunities,” Pettenuzzo said. “We didn’t take risks we could have taken; we kind of played it safe. That was one of our biggest mistakes, that we didn’t … challenge ourselves and trust our stuff.”
That passivity displayed itself, according to Kelly, in a number of offensive turnovers, especially in the first half, and weak rebounding. Those aspects of the game weren’t problems the last time the team played Barrington, Pettenuzzo said.
“[Last game], we ran the ball,” she said. “We worked on transitions, we didn’t stop, we just kept going.”
“This game, we definitely slowed it down.”
Regardless, as Kelly pointed out, the team has much to be proud of: a regional championship, a 20-win season (the first since 2002), and a bright future: much of the team’s core -Pettenuzzo, Winans, fellow juniors Sarah Hunt and Ashley Wabik, along with sophomores Jessica Petrovski and Maura Benson, who have both proven themselves in the past two games – will be back next year.