2007-02-16 / Sports

Rosella,Stella Maris Delivers Knockout Blow To Eagles

By Elio Velez

Alexa Rosella (left) drives past St. Edmund Prep's Stephanie Camacho for a first half layup. Photo by Peter Borriello. Alexa Rosella (left) drives past St. Edmund Prep's Stephanie Camacho for a first half layup. Photo by Peter Borriello. Maureen Gigliello expected growing pains as the coach of the Stella Maris Lady Flippers had lost 70% of their roster from last year's Brooklyn/ Queens CHSAA II Diocesan championship team.

But even her pre-season expectations for her young roster have changed throughout the season. It was evident that on Monday night at St. Edmund Prep in Brooklyn that her young charges once again showed that they are starting to grasp the intricacies of high school basketball at a quick pace. The Lady Flippers still have a few experienced players on the roster and Alexa Rosella was a key cog. The senior would score 14 of her 22 points in the second half as Stella Maris climbed back from a six point halftime deficit and won 60- 49 to climb into first place with a 10-2 record.

"She's an emotional anchor and a physical anchor for us," Gigliello said.

"I think we licked our wounds and they rallied around her."

They would hold off St. Edmund, who could not claim the top spot in the division and fell to 9-3. Their good fortune in winning the game would be overshadowed as Rosella, who is only 40 points away from finishing with 1,000 points in her career, suffered a costly injury that might hamper the Lady Flippers in the playoffs.

After a subpar first half, Rosella, a 5 foot 9 forward who is also the starting pitcher for the varsity softball team, made up for her efforts with a stellar third quarter.

She knocked down 12 of the first 13 points Stella Maris would score as the Eagles lead was cut to one by the fourth quarter.

By then, her young teammates would rediscover their good form with a determined effort to shutdown St. Edmund's outside shooting.

They were hot in the first half but a scrappy defensive effort held Stella Maris' opponents to only four points in the final quarter. Megan Davidson scored 14 points for St. Edmund but only had one field goal in the second half.

With two minutes remaining, Rosella was driving to the St. Edmund basket when she was knocked out of bounds by forward Tara Kirk. As she was crumpled on the stage located at the far end of the St. Edmund Prep gymnasium, Rosella grabbed onto her left foot and the immediate thought that it was broken.

It was later diagnosed in the week that a stretched ligament in her left foot will cause Rosella to miss 2-6 weeks with the injury.

"I knew it hurt," Rosella, who did not return to the game and watched from the sidelines. "I know that I will be back."

Rosella's injuries have strangely enough surround St. Edmund. When she previously suffered a torn rotator cuff in her sophomore year, her return after missing the first ten games of the season was against St. Edmund. In a victory in January over the Eagles, Rosella aggravated the left foot and played with the pain for the past few weeks.

Gigliello is worried that not only will the injury affect Rosella's chance to return to net the 1,000 point milestone but it could affect her opportunity to be healthy when the softball season begins in the spring. She has received college interest for her performance on the pitching mound which was highlighted by the Flippers appearance in the softball diocesan final last May

"I didn't get nervous to tell you the truth. Nervous is a bad word. I just got a maternal thing because everyone is like my children on the floor," Gigliello said."She's a senior and I wanted her to be ok and I was thinking about softball. Basketball is secondary."

Gigliello has to work with a roster mixing seven new players and only three upperclassmen, including Rosella, Tara Gleason and Kathleen Haggerty who have plenty of varsity experience.

Now the onus will be on young players like Eliana Howell, who scored 10 points and others to pick up the slack in the final two weeks of the regular season. Gigliello has prepared her squad during certain games this season to not rely just on Rosella. There have been times when they have risen to the challenge and other times which they have struggled. Until Rosella, who will be wearing an air cast, is cleared to return, Gigliello says the test for her young team to win in the absence of their top scorer begins now.

"I tell them on November 1st when they come in that we are going to win a championship. They have to feel the pressure the whole way through. Otherwise when the playoffs come, they will be surprised at the intensity. This team didn't win the championship last year. We are a different team."

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