The pounding high-tops of the girls’ varsity basketball team are only beginning to scratch the gleaming surface of what could become one of the most promising eras of athletic talent that Deerfield has ever seen.
With seven freshmen on the team, and the equivalent in returners, head coach Darnel Barnes could not emphasize enough the amount of potential this team is boasting.
“We’re young, energetic, enthusiastic, and extremely talented,” he said.
With this talent, the girls are setting the bar higher than has been feasible in years past.
Starting forward Elizabeth Murray ’14 said, “We have to win at least half of our games to make it in the playoffs. Deerfield hasn’t made it in a few years, and I think if we keep working really hard we’ll be there, but of course it will be tough.”
Big competitors this season include such familiar names as Choate, Taft, Loomis, Andover, and Suffield.
“At the beginning of the season we played in the Eight Schools Tournament and beat some pretty good schools that aren’t even in our league,” said co-captain and four-year-veteran point guard Rosemary Straut ’11.
“That gives us a lot of confidence because we now have a greater idea of how well we’ll do against our regular season competitors.”
The players’ confidence is backed by hours of hard work. Each practice is a precise regimen of passing drills, lay-up work, scrimmages, shooting series, run- throughs of specific game plays, and court-lengths and court- lengths of sprints.
Although Mr. Barnes runs a tight ship, returning player Marissa Morte ’12 said, “Basketball is the highlight of his day. He’s such a dedicated coach. Of course he wants us to win, but it’s also obvious that it’s really important for him to just be out there on the court encouraging us and motivating us to do our best.”
To become a big name in New England basketball, a team needs a lot more than just stellar line-up and talent.
“We can win,” Mr. Barnes said. “Since we are in control of our own fate, and we have such a young team, we look to the leadership of the returners to take us as far as they are willing to go.”
Although this season’s 4-8 record hasn’t been as glimmering as hoped for, the road to such success can only come progressively.
Such instances of poise and progression were seen at a recent game against Andover.
Although Deerfield lost in the end, their incredible first half cannot be overlooked.
While bravely going toe-to-toe with one of the toughest team in the league, our girls put on a ferocious performance before halftime.
“The girls on the other team were huge,” said Mr. Barnes, “but that first half was by far the best basketball our girls have played so far.”
At the end of the first half, Deerfield was only down by two points, and powerhouse Andover had to rally from DA’s unexpectedly dangerous performance to conclusively possess that evening’s victory.
“At the end of the day, we’re young,” said Mr. Barnes, “so it was great to see our girls play such a good half, but, starting now, we want every minute of every game in the future to be played with the same amount of first half energy.”
This goal seems reachable, according to co-captain Kendall Carpenter ’11. “No team is out of our reach,” she said. “Every one of the girls brings something to the table. We’re not only going to be strong this season, but the program will continue to be good in the future.”
As Mr. Barnes said, “I want us to be in the hunt every year; I want their coaches to say, ‘Man, we’d better get ready. Deerfield is coming.’ “