by Rick Pezzullo
It’s a team with only two seniors and one healthy junior, but inexperience hasn’t been an issue at all this season for the Irvington High School girls’ basketball team.
With only three games remaining on its regular season schedule, Irvington is 16-1, in the driver’s seat to win an eighth straight league title and well prepared to make another serious run at a Section I Class B championship.
While the Lady Bulldogs are led by their dynamite junior point guard Lindsay Halpin, 40-year Coach Gina Maher stressed the team’s success so far this season has been achieved by contributions from everyone who steps foot on the hardwood.
“I think the strength of our team is everyone contributes. We play very well defensively and that makes our offense go,” Maher said.
Maher said Halpin is one of the best players in Section 1 and has helped her younger teammates exceed preseason expectations.
“She’s having a great year,” Maher said. “She’s scoring a lot, she plays great defense. She’s a team player.”
Senior captains Lindsay Chafizadeh and Nina Valdes have also excelled in their leadership roles, while sophomores Kelly Degnan and Heather Hall have played well in the starting five. Sophomores Mary Brereton and Olivia Valdes “have been great coming off the bench,” Maher noted.
Maher stressed there is “great parity in Class B,” with five teams capable of beating any other team, so she is careful of not letting the Lady Bulldogs look too far ahead to the County Center or beyond.
“We have to keep our discipline and our intensity,” she said. “We can’t get cocky and think we can stop practicing. I think we have to be cautious.”
Over the last seven seasons, Irvington has recorded a stunning 162-12 record.