by Rick Pezzullo
The lineups change each season, but what stays consistent with the Irvington High School girls’ basketball team is winning.
The Lady Bulldogs have recorded a remarkable 146-11 record the last six seasons, won seven straight league titles, and captured five Section I Class B championships in the last six years.
It’s a standard of excellence unequaled in the region that annually puts a spotlight on the squad every time they hit the hardwood.
“I think everyone wants to beat us,” said legendary coach Gina Maher, who is marking her 40th year on the sidelines. “We have a very strong schedule.”
Only five players are returning from last year’s team, a team that went 23-2, including an 18-game winning streak, before bowing out in the Final Four of the State Class B tournament.
“We’re very young and inexperienced,” Maher said. “We’re not real tall, but they work very hard. I think we’re deep. Everybody on the team is capable of playing. They all play on the same level. Hopefully as the season progresses we’ll get better.”
Leading the Lady Bulldogs again this season will be junior Lindsay Halpin, who has emerged as one of the top point guards in high school girls’ basketball.
The team only features two seniors, Lindsay Chafizadeh and Nina Valdes. Junior Katie McMahon is injured and Maher hopes to have her back in early 2016. The only other player from last year’s team is sophomore Kelly Degnan.
Sophomores Mary Brereton, Heather Hall and Olivia Valdes, all of whom received some Sectionals experience last season, will be counted on to make valuable contributions, along with freshmen Miranda Farman and Mia Mascone.
Competing against Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry and Woodlands, Maher maintained there was no league favorite this year. Winning the league is always the first goal of Irvington, which will have an increased 20-game schedule.
“Yes, we want to win the league. Hopefully we’ll play great defense. That is going to be key,” she said.
Irvington will be taking on Ardsley December 3 in its host tournament after opening with Briarcliff Manor on December 1.
Maher said she is as pumped to kick off the season as when she first started coaching. “It never gets old,” she said. “Once it does, you know it’s time to leave.”