Chemistry, leadership a key to Sacred Heart’s return to FAA hoops title hopes

After a frustrating end to last year’s season, head coach Sean Green and his Convent of the Sacred Heart basketball team are more determined than ever to get Fairchester Athletic Association glory.

“Most of these girls have had championship experience, so they know what it’s going to take to be successful,” Green said. “We played our first scrimmages without some of our top players and we still looked really good. I think this team has a lot of talent and wants to get that FAA championship.”

Last season, the Tigers were in unfamiliar territory, as they were trying to defend their FAA championship.

Although they beat Hamden Hall 51-37 in the FAA quarterfinals, their run at a repeat championship came game to an end against top-seeded Rye Country Day School, falling 41-35.

The team finished 13-7 overall, but ended the season with a bitter taste in their mouths.

More determined than ever, Green and the rest of the Tigers are focused on bringing the FAA championship trophy back to King Street.

“I think we have a very deep squad, which is good to have,” Green said. “I am trying to hold everybody on the team accountable. Colleen (O’Neill) is coming off a rough season last year and is more focused than ever. Emily (O’Sullivan) is an intimidating big person and I am hoping to get the people that didn’t play that much last year to step up their game. I already noticed that this team has matured since last year.”

This year the Tigers will be led by senior captain Colleen O’Neill.

“I’m trying to get her to be more vocal and more of a leader,” Green said. “She’s polished. She’s quick enough and under control.”

What makes O’Neill such a threat is her ability to drive and dish, drive and shoot or just drive, stop and hit the jumper.

“She is so explosive and can go either right or left,” Green said. “She can shoot the outside shot or finish by driving the lane. Colleen has great court vision. When the team plays well, Colleen can really excel because she’s confident that she could give the ball up.”

The Tigers will be strong under the basket, due to 6’02” junior Emily O’Sullivan.

“She brings an intimidating presence,” Green said. “She has the size and is really good to the ball. Against Hotchkiss she grabbed 19 rebounds and they are a tough team. Emily also can finish around the rim and she’s also very unselfish. In the last two years, she could have easily finished with 20 points.”

Helping out with the rebounds will be senior Bridge Scuturro, senior Shelby Holland and freshman Kristen Davis.

When it comes to the team’s outside game, Sacred Heart will have a slew of athletes that could his the long distance shot. Leading the way will be junior Claire O’Neill and Colleen O’Neill. Senior Bridget Scaturro is the team’s mid-range shooter and Green said he’s hoping that her three-point shooting will improve this season.

Sophomore Grace Passannante is 6’0” is a solid three-point shooter, however Green said that once her confidence improves, Passannante will be a dominating presence behind the arch. Joining the long range shooters will be freshman Emily O’Sullivan and senior Madison Sirabella.

While the Tigers have the outside shooting and inside presence, Green believes that the team’s leadership ability is the overall strength.

“It is so key for us to have a natural-born leader as our captain,” Green said. “Everybody looks up to her because of how hard she works. It’s always good to have your best player and hardest worker as the team captain. She’s setting such a good example for this team and it is elevating the level of play here.”

Green knows that if his team plans on bringing the FAA championship trophy back to Sacred Heart, there is still work to be done.

“I want to see them take better care of the ball,” Green said. “We need to get those 50-50 ball and those balls that are rolling around. We also need to execute our offense better. We still have girls that don’t run the plays correctly. It’s easy to do it in practice, but when someone is in your face and you’re tired, you need to know what you’re doing so the ball doesn’t get turned over.”

Convent of the Sacred Heart basketball team got its second straight home victory in grand fashion Tuesday night at the CSH gymnasium against Millbrook School, winning 54-26.

The Tigers started the game on an 18-0 run and finished the first half leading 29-3.

Leading Sacred Heart was freshman Delaney Colaio-Cappola, who finished with 10 points, three rebounds and three steals. Scaturro added eight points. Emily O’Sullivan ended the game with six points and led the team with seven rebounds.

In her return to the hardwood, Claire O’Neill saw limited minutes, but finished with five points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals.

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