by Tom Pedulla
In what is often viewed as a “me-me world,” All-State girls’ basketball star Lindsay Halpin of Irvington stands out as the total antithesis.
Halpin, the Bulldogs’ senior point guard, played her position as a four-year starter in its purest form. She has the extraordinary ability to see everything happening on the court, to understand how defenses are reacting and how to get teammates the ball in positions where they can maximize their offensive abilities.
Halpin said of her role as orchestrator of the offense, “I love getting all the assists and not shooting as much.”
Halpin can – and did – do it all for Irvington during its 19-1 regular season. She averaged 15 points, 5.75 assists, five rebounds and 3.2 steals and was recently honored as Con Edison’s Scholar Athlete of the Week. But nothing satisfies her more than threading a pass through a cluster of defenders to set up someone else for a basket.
“She would much rather give out an assist than score,” said coach Gina Maher, adding, “She’s totally unselfish, sometimes too unselfish.”
There are critical times in games when Maher urges the 5-foot-6 Halpin to take over offensively. She reluctantly obliges.
“If that’s what I have to do,” she said, “I do it.”
She finished the regular season with 1,408 career points while also being saluted by Maher for her tenacious defense. She possesses a good outside shot and does not hesitate to drive to the rim against taller defenders, often drawing fouls in the process that lead to free throws.
Halpin has been the league’s Most Valuable Player year after year and the MVP of the state sectional final while being consistently ranked among New York State’s top 50 players. Those honors might inflate anyone’s ego – yet she remains selfless.
“We’re all really close to Halpin because she’s such a great person,” said Heather Hall, a junior guard.
Halpin, who closed the regular season with 115 assists, has all but willed Irvington to great heights. “She brings up all her teammates,” Hall said. “She knows what shots to get us. She knows what shots we like.”
Halpin has been in a difficult position as the only senior on a roster that must depend heavily on younger talent. She responded to that challenge.
“She says things that help settle the team,” said Mary Brereton, a junior forward. “She also says things to motivate us. If we’re down, she’ll tell us we need to pick it up.”
Halpin’s preference, though, is to show leadership in a more subdued form.
“She is a leader in a very quiet way. She leads by example,” Maher said. “There isn’t a drill we run that she doesn’t win, and it’s been that way forever.”
Halpin has been an ideal fit for Maher, long regarded as one of the top girls’ basketball coaches in the state.
“She’s an awesome coach,” Halpin said. “She’s helped me so much on and off the court, about life and basketball.”
Maher often spurs her players by saying, “If you work hard, good things will happen.”
She needs only to point to Halpin. According to Halpin, she has a 3.4 grade-point average. “I definitely try hard,” she said of her academics. “I like to be successful and do the best I can in every situation.”
Halpin’s desire to balance academics and athletics led her to commit to Division 3 SUNY Geneseo, one of many schools that recruited her. Although she might have competed at a higher level, Maher endorsed her decision.
“She’s excited and they’re excited,” Maher said. “It’s a great academic school, and I’m sure she’ll start playing right away.”
If Halpin is struggling, it is with emotions typical of many seniors. She is not quite ready to begin the process of reflecting on her distinguished career and beginning to focus on what lies ahead.
“It’s weird. I don’t like doing it. I don’t like saying I’m a senior yet,” she said. “But, yeah, it’s been great. I love the community and the people I surrounded myself with.”
The feeling is mutual.