Irvington Girls Roll Over Dobbs Ferry on Hardwood, 50-31
By Tom Pedulla
Two girls’ basketball teams in search of their better selves met when visiting Irvington rolled past Dobbs Ferry 50-31 on Jan. 13.
Although perennial power Irvington won for the sixth time in eight games, the pandemic has so far hindered the Bulldogs’ progress. Coach Gina Maher was unable to schedule challenging scrimmages against other strong programs that are important in developing her team. Four canceled games due to positive test results also hurt the cause.
“We need a little more game time, a little more game experience,” Maher said. “I think the layoff hurt. They have to get used to playing in games.”
Irvington has an unusual situation in its effort to contain the contagious virus. Three sets of siblings are part of the roster: Olivia and Niki DiNardo, Katie and Emmaline LeBuhn and Amanda and Alyson Raimondo.
“No one has been sick, luckily, just some positive tests,” said senior captain Katie LeBuhn. “We’re good about wearing our masks and trying to protect ourselves and our opponents as well.”
The unusual situation is allowing the Bulldogs to develop depth. “We’re fortunate to have a really big team this year, so we have people coming in and out when there are COVID cases,” LeBuhn noted. “The biggest difficulty is finding continuity with the people we have and showing up for practice every day and being excited for practice even though we might not be playing games for a week or two at a time.”
Irvington received a lift against struggling Dobbs Ferry (3-9) with the return of senior forward Sara Gavagan. She had broken her ankle during the first week of practice and can be a big factor as the team develops with an eye toward post-season.
Gavagan admitted to some initial nervousness surrounding her comeback but said, “Everything got easier as the game went on and everyone was super supportive, which helps a lot.”
She added: “Soccer is my sport, but this is definitely more my family. I was really excited to play with everyone again.”
Irvington never trailed as precocious freshman Alyson Raimondo nailed a sweet three-pointer to begin the scoring. The Bulldogs rattled off the game’s first nine points en route to a 17-7 advantage at the end of the first quarter. The margin stood at 30-17 at halftime, 40-24 through three quarters.
Alyson Raimondo, who has tremendous potential, finished with a game-high 16 points. Talia Reith, displaying a fine three-point touch, led the Eagles with 14 points and excelled defensively in limiting explosive Katie LeBuhn to nine points.
“To their credit, they somehow worked it out,” Maher said. “I thought they played great defense. I thought they moved the ball well. I thought they did a really, really good job.”
Defense was key. “They are very aggressive defensively. They always seem to get a hand in there. That was a big struggle for us,” said first-year Dobbs Ferry coach Kasey Grisanti. “We turned the ball over 20 times. We can’t win if we do that.”
Added Reith: “Being confident with the ball, trusting each other, limiting turnovers is a big thing for us. Once we cut that out, we’ll be a much better team.”
Dobbs Ferry played tentatively when compared to Irvington. “We struggle with confidence. It hurts us a lot. We get in our heads and it’s hard for us to get out,” Grisanti said. “But if we play the game that we know how to play, we’ll get there. They have it in them, and I think they’ll be able to turn it around.”
While Dobbs Ferry works on building confidence, Irvington would benefit from continuity. “It’s going to take time. It’s a whole new team. I think that we’re capable. We just have to get together,” Maher said. “As the season goes on, we’ll become a more cohesive group.”
Where will it all lead for the Bulldogs?
“With the group we have, it’s kind of hard not to have high expectations,” LeBuhn said. “Every player we have on the team is incredibly talented and, even better than that, an incredible person. There is a bit of a lofty ceiling when you have such a great family around you.”