Eight Is Enough
Low On Numbers, Unbeaten Trojans Have Rarely Been Tested So Far
It’s a simple motto, yet so accurately describes Southwestern’s girls basketball team.
The Trojans will take a 15-0 overall record and 9-0 mark into Monday’s CCAA Division 1 West game in Dunkirk.
“Everything with us starts with our defense. We’ve been able to rely on our defense and conditioning all year long,” Southwestern head coach Dave Turnbull said at the end of Friday night’s practice. ” … I think that is what gets our offense going and allows us to get some easy baskets.”
Southwestern isn’t just beating its opponents, it’s dominating them.
The Trojans have won by an average margin of 26.2 points per game.
What’s more, they have rarely even been tested.
Other than a pair of meetings with league rival Chautauqua Lake, only one opponent has even been within 10 points of the Trojans.
The Thunderbirds have put up the toughest fight yet, a 55-53 loss last month at Southwestern. They also played Southwestern tough over Christmas break in a tournament game at Jamestown Community College, but the Trojans pulled that one out by nine.
Other than that, Olean is the only other team to keep Southwestern within single digits, in a 55-49 loss Jan. 3.
The Trojans have averaged 63.6 points per game while allowing 37.4. The results are even better than Turnbull envisioned when he left Maple Grove and took over for Anne Beck following the Trojans’ sectional title two years ago.
Oh, and there are just eight girls on the Trojans’ roster.
“It’s challenging in terms of trying to create drills so we can get what we need to get out of them,” Turnbull said. “It’s an all-for-one, one-for-all kind of mentality. Even the star players are very supportive. One through eight, they all support each other equally.”
“I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. You just have to push through the hard days,” senior Izzy Bursch added. “It’s a lot of perseverance. Even if you are down, it’s a lot of lifting up each other because you only have eight people to rely on. There aren’t another five girls to put on the court.”
Junior Erin Radack leads the team with 15.8 points, 5.2 steals and 5.0 assists to go along with 7.6 rebounds per game.
“Erin could have 30 on any given night, but she is so unselfish. She’s asked to do so much,” Turnbull said. “She’s our point guard, but she’s not a point guard. I think she is most comfortable at the No. 2, but by necessity she plays point. … She makes unbelievably good decisions with the basketball.”
Senior Alanna Dibble is second in scoring at 14.9 points per game and leads the team with 16.2 rebounds per contest. Dibble has also blocked 25 shots to pace the Trojans’ interior defense.
“Basically that’s what I count on. She’s going to get 15 points and 15 rebounds, it doesn’t matter who she’s playing,” Turnbull said. “Every game she is so consistent for us.”
“Playing with Erin is such an honor,” Dibble added. “She is such a good point guard and a very important person on this team.”
But Southwestern has received contributions from throughout its lineup.
Freshman Sofia Genareo is averaging 9.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.5 steals per game during her first year on the varsity team.
“I think she has done a remarkable job. I have to stop myself sometimes and realize she’s 14 years old,” Turnbull said. “I see her as a varsity basketball player, but my own daughter — an eighth-grader — is actually 10 days older than she is. From a maturity level it’s amazing she’s been able to do what she’s been able to do for us.”
Bursch is averaging 9.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.3 steals per game all while becoming more confident on the offensive end of the floor throughout the season.
“Izzy is a girl that has been a leader from the very first day of practice. I don’t think she’s had a bad practice all year,” Turnbull said. ” … She’s a stone-cold killer with a catch-and-shoot jump shot.”
Senior Samicka Mathews is averaging 4.7 points per game and is second on the team with 8.2 rebounds per game.
“When I first came to Southwestern I realized right away that she was a kid that brought a unique kind of energy to our team,” Turnbull said. “We joke that if she was 5-11 or 6 feet tall, a line of schools would be waiting to talk to her because her motor is unbelievable.”
Juniors Carissa Minarovich and Cassidy Davies have teamed with sophomore Gianna Hoose to provide valuable minutes off the bench for the Trojans.
“The amount of work (they) have put in — we call them the Three-Headed Monster,” Turnbull said. “They are every bit as important to this team as Erin or Alanna.”
It has been a recipe for success thus far as Southwestern goes after a perfect regular season heading into the Section VI Class B2 playoffs.
“This has been the best year of my life,” Mathews said. “Honestly, because we put in so much work, I feel we are going to go really far.”
As of this weekend, the Trojans would be the No. 2 seed behind Olmsted, but that doesn’t faze Turnbull in the least.
“We take every single game one game at a time. We never look ahead. I bet right now they wouldn’t even know who we play three games from now,” said Turnbull, who praised assistant coach Jason Bower for working with the girls. ” … The goal for us is to first win our league, then B2, then the crossover. If we can get to that point, anything can happen.”
Pretty impressive for a group of eight girls.
“It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of trust in the whole entire team,” Bursch said. “It’s a lot of leaning on each other and believing in each other.”