Phoenixes are noted for their ability to rise from their own ashes to newfound glory. That is why after making the playoffs last season with an 8-6 record, the Phoenix, Stuyvesant’s girls’ basketball team, was confident in its ability to recover from losing a class of six strong seniors.
The team lost its leading scorer, Abby Schaeffer (’09), rebounder, Tina Khiani (’09) and assist-man, Kate O’Dowd (’09). After losing such an essential group of players, the Phoenix looked both to this year’s senior class and the younger players to perform.
Throughout 11 games, the Phoenix fought to achieve a record of 5-6. In order to clinch a playoff spot, the team needed to win two of its last three games in order to reach the necessary .500 record.
The first of the final three games was against the Norman Thomas High School’s Lady Tigers. Stuyvesant lost at home earlier in the season to the Lady Tigers on Thursday, December 17. The game remained close, going into halftime with Stuyvesant trailing Norman Thomas 26-22. However, the Phoenix fell flat in the second half and lost 54-36.
In its rematch, the Phoenix sprinted to an 18-7 lead by the end of the first quarter, but after being held scoreless in the second quarter, went into halftime once again trailing 24-18. In the second half, the Lady Tigers fought off late charges and held on to win 56-44.
In its penultimate game, the Phoenix traveled to Hunter College High School in a must-win situation. However, after keeping the game close through three quarters, the Phoenix struggled to close the game, as it has all season. In the fourth quarter, it was outscored 12-3 and went on to lose 47-32, dashing all playoff hopes.
“They played us with a man-to-man defense,” junior guard Audrey Fleischner said. “They knew that’s our weakness. That’s something we will work on for next year: beating a man-to-man defense.”
The final game of the season against the High School of Economics and Finance was forfeited after the opposing team didn’t show up. The Phoenix won that game and finished with a 6-8 record.
The goal for the Phoenix, according to coach Michelle Fleming, is always “making the playoffs.” “That’s the number one goal. We also aim to get our skill level up and to have fun,” she said.
“This season was definitely a success, considering that coming into this season we really did not have very much. We lost some very close games, and did better against tough teams like Baruch and School of the Future than expected,” senior and captain Alexandra Albright said.
Part of what the team lost was the reliable point guard in O’Dowd. Going into this season, the team had no point guard at all. In order to fill this spot, sophomore Lisa Qiu was called on. She averaged close to 11 points per game and gained valuable experience
As the team sees another strong class of seniors—Albright, Kelly Quinn and Imelda Ko —graduate, it will once again be looking for younger players like Qiu to step up. “The seniors definitely bring a lot of energy every day, aside from their being great players. I am a little nervous about being a senior next year and having to bring that same energy and get the team going,” junior Maya Goldman said.
While Goldman and others may be nervous, coach Fleming is confident that next year’s seniors will be able to step up. “In my four years here, the seniors have always been able to live up to their expectations,” she said.