Lenape girls basketball ready for playoffs

Lenape Valley Regional High School girls basketball team

By Josh Lashley
STANHOPE — Make no mistake about it. The Lenape Valley Regional High School girl’s basketball program has been competing at a considerably high level this entire season-and that’s certainly true now that playoff time is quickly approaching.
Helping the cause for the Patriots this winter happen to be a pair of senior leaders-Grace Connery and Carly Tarnowski.
“I don’t pick captains; I try to emphasize the family atmosphere amongst my girls,’’ Lenape Valley head coach Kyle Murphy said. “Although I don’t pick captains, my two seniors have taken the leadership role like last year’s girls and are the main reason why we have had the success we are having this season. Grace Connery scored her 1,000th point opening night versus Wallkill Valley (a 44-27 win on December 15). In an away game versus Vernon (a 56-29 win on January 12), she passed Marissa Quaglia for girls all time leading scorer which was 1,187.
“When taking the head coaching position last year my primary focus has been to put the program back in a more positive direction and to earn the respect back in the area. The past few seasons before stepping in as head coach, the program fell off the map a little bit and they weren’t very successful. This year the goal has stayed the same as last year and the girls, especially my seniors, have been focused and determined in continuing to put the program in a more positive direction and build off last year's success.’’
As leaders, Connery and Tarnowski not only lead by example, they encourage their teammates to improve as well.
“My two seniors have really taken on the leadership role and have been such positive role models for all the younger girls,’’ Murphy said. “They have really gone out of their way this year to be supportive of all the girls in the program and have kept the chemistry tight which is a huge reason why we are having the success we are having this winter season.’’
As a team, Lenape Valley gets their work done properly where it most counts-in the classroom.
“The girls are not only having themselves a fine season on the court but they are all top notch students in the classroom,’’ Murphy said. “All of the girls take being a student athlete very seriously and put a lot of emphasis on being a star not only on the court but in the classroom as well. As a coach I’m very proud to not only see the girls excel on the court but also every day in their classes.’’
Given their fine overall record of 11-6 (through February 3), it’s obvious that the Patriots have depth on the roster.
“We have a strong group of juniors (including Madison Tredway, Thalia Johnson, Elisa Kucevic and Lindsey Bicher) who have really helped us out this season, all have contributed in their own way,’’ Murphy said. “We also have two freshmen (Madison Baisley and Brienna Pangborn) dressing varsity and earning minutes on the court.’’
NOTES: Last season they advanced to the NJSIAA North 1 Group 2 Sectional Tournament and were defeated by Mahwah. This year, first round Sectional Tournament games begin on February 26 and February 27.