Lady Flippers Start Chase For Diocesan Crown
Raaf and her teammates felt the sadness throughout their encounter against St. Agnes with a capacity crowd watching Stella Maris gymnasium. While it was an ugly contest throughout, the Lady Flippers proved victorious in the end by winning 32-31 in the Brooklyn-Queens CHSAA regular season finale.
“It was hard playing especially in the fourth quarter when it’s the last quarter,” the sophomore point guard said. “Soon as the buzzer rang, everybody started crying.”
The final home game was originally supposed to take place on February 10, but a snowstorm postponed the game to Saturday.
The long wait furthered the anticipation of the Flippers taking part in their final home game. The closing of the school has been an issue the Stella Maris varsity basketball team has been dealing with all season.
The sadness started in the locker room according to coach Maureen Gigliello. And it affected them on the court against 0-12 St. Agnes. While the Lady Flippers, who improved to 7-5, were missing starting center Jen Miller and two other players, they played enough bad basketball to almost give the game away.
“We missed 13 foul shots. We had over 36 turnovers including the walks and the three second calls. We made every mental, physical and existential mistake you could make in a game,” Gigliello said.
The Lady Flippers recovered in the fourth quarter to get the victory with Raaf scoring 18 points. Stella Maris‘ Shannon O’Connor blocked an attempted game winning shot with three seconds left to secure the win.
“I don’t know how they got through the game. It was emotional. I didn’t nail them through the game. It was the hardest locker room I’ve ever been in. They started sobbing as soon as the final buzzer rang.”
Stella Maris finished the regular season with a 7-5 record and clinched the fourth playoff spot in the CHSAA Division II. Even if Stella Maris loses, the Flippers have qualified to compete in the CHSAA Catholic State Championships which will take place in two weeks.
Gigliello has been praising her team all season for working through the tough circumstances and giving a good effort on the floor.
After the team was dressed and left their locker room, many of the fans had remained and gave the Lady Flippers a standing ovation for their efforts.
When Gigliello left the gym two and half hours after the game started, she could finally start preparing for the team’s first round game on Tuesday. Stella Maris will play fifth seed St. Edmund at 4 p.m. The game will be held at St. Agnes High School in College Point.
Lady Flippers center Chelsea Flores is confident they can pull off a good playoff run to the championship. The 73-61 regular season victory over St. John’s Prep, who finished second in the division, gave Stella Maris hope they can compete with teams such as the Red Storm and first seed Fontbonne Hall. “I think St. John’s Prep underestimated us. We just kept at it, worked hard and we showed how good a team we can be,” Flores said.
The focus for Raaf and her teammates is to focus on Tuesday’s game and begin their quest to winning for the school one last diocesan title.
“We have the chance when we play together. We got competition in this league. But if we play very well, we can win a championship,” said Raaf.