When the girls’ basketball season got underway about four months ago Medway Coach Joe Iannone and his Mustangs were still thinking heavily about how they had last fallen to Groton-Dunstable 43-35 in the Semi-Finals of the Division 2 Central Tournament. Since they had last taken the court last winter, Medway said goodbye to four senior players who had a hand in their success, and not only was the coach unsure of the upcoming season, so was his team.
“I really didn’t know where things were going to go this coming year, and the players were all nervous as to what we were going to be,” the Mustang Coach said. “As the season progressed, we seemed to get better and our confidence grew, and about midway through the season, we knew that this year had chance to be special.”
On opening night, the Mustangs beat Medfield raising their expectations of the season. Medway went on to finish the regular season 18-2 and earned a chance to play in the Sectional Tournament for the third year in a row. Once in the tournament Medway dispatched of Hudson 53-36, edged arch rival Medfield once again 32-31 and then took out Marlboro 44-37 to take home the Division 4 Central Championship. It was Medway’s first Sectional Title since 1994 when they were a Division 3 team. This year’s Championship was their first ever as a division 2 team.
“Having played Medfield, the very first game of the season, we were two very different teams 20 games later,” Iannone said. “I knew that they’d be waiting for us, and fortunately, we were able to beat them by a point. We dodged a bullet.”
While the Mustangs were able to grab their first Division 2 Sectional Championship, the team didn’t fare well in the State Tournament. Taconic, the Western Champion, battled back from a 13-point half time deficit to find themselves down by a single point with only 20 seconds on the clock. Taconic’s Tamia Patrick hit a three-pointer, to give the Braves a 2-point lead with only seconds left and the eventual win 48-46.
“We had a great first half, and four minutes into the third quarter Taconic had gotten themselves back into the game. We had a bad third quarter and didn’t make our foul shots that we usually do,” the Medway Coach said. “The girls were bummed out after the 2-point loss, but they were a resilient team. When they look back, they’ll find many more fond memoires before they get to that loss. During my 25 years as a coach, this was my most special season.”
The success the Mustangs had this season started with the leadership of the team’s three captains who not only held the team, but the coaches as well accountable. Leading the team were seniors Julia Dowling and Emma D’Entremont as well as junior Lauren Beach, who was named to the Tri Valley League All Star team.
“These girls supplied great team discipline early on and had to figure out what type of team we wanted to be and then get the rest of the girls to buy into it,” Iannone said. “I’ve been coaching her for 11 years now, and this is the closest team I’ve had.”
Three other critical athletes to the Mustangs success were senior Mary Kate Gould and sophomores Amy Johnston (forward) and Maggie Regan (center), both who were named TVL All-Stars. Gould came off the bench giving Iannone someone wo knew what she had to do; she was a leader as the team’s sixth man. She will continue her basketball career next year playing for Wentworth Institute of Technology.
As for the sophomores, Iannone had no idea that after only one year they’d step up the way they did and so fast.
“Both girls are tremendous defensive players,” he said. “Amy locks up the opposition’s star player, and Maggie is waiting in the paint, if they happen to get by Amy. She is great at altering and blocking shots.”
According to the Coach, the team definitely could not have had the type of year they put up if it weren’t for Beach, the TVL Small Division MVP. Beach not only lead the team in scoring during the regular season with 14 points per game, but also in the tournament; she was a versatile player that rebound well.
Looking to next season, Iannone has yet to be able to sit down with the team due to all the things happening in the world, but is very optimistic about the team’s chances with all three of their major contributors back. In addition, there are others totally capable of playing minutes come next season. The Coach does believe that the team coming back next year can mirror what the squad did this season and then some.