Northeast Times

Public League playoffs: Northeast falls to Girls High

Start­Frag­ment

As far as the end of ath­let­ic sea­sons go, Phil Mon­as­tra summed up his coach­ing man­tra pretty aptly.

“The worst part of any coach’s sea­son in any sport is the last game,” he said by phone Fri­day af­ter­noon. “Un­less it’s you win­ning the cham­pi­on­ship.”

Un­for­tu­nately for Mon­as­tra and the North­east Lady Vik­ings bas­ket­ball team, their fi­nal game of the sea­son did not cul­min­ate with them hoist­ing a Pub­lic League cham­pi­on­ship trophy.

After a five-game win­ning streak to close out the sea­son, North­east was rid­ing high. But they had to wait nearly two weeks between the reg­u­lar sea­son fi­nale on Feb. 1 and Wed­nes­day’s semi­finals match-up with Girls High, and the rust was ap­par­ent.

North­east nev­er really got it go­ing, drop­ping a 45-28 de­cision that “ob­vi­ously did not go the way we had hoped,” as Mon­as­tra said.

“We had a game plan on how to at­tack them us­ing a full court press, but we had some foul trouble that kind of al­lowed them to go on a run,” he said. “It quickly got away from us. We just wer­en’t able to ex­ecute the game plan we had set out for.”

Mon­as­tra’s lead­ing scorer, ju­ni­or Lauren Wil­lis, man­aged a team-high 14 points; however, the Girls High de­fense fo­cused on slow­ing down Wil­lis and mak­ing her team­mates beat them, which didn’t hap­pen. After Wil­lis torched them for 25 points in a 45-44 North­east win back on Jan. 11, they were ready this time around for the ex­plos­ive scorer.

“They knew they had to slow Lauren down,” Mon­as­tra said. “Our of­fense goes through her, and we had trouble scor­ing oth­er­wise. We had a plan, but it just didn’t work. We didn’t make the right passes and we turned it over a lot, which cost us points and pos­ses­sions. We also didn’t shoot well; our post play­ers shot less than 50 per­cent, which isn’t go­ing to cut it.”

Mon­as­tra, in his first year on the job at North­east, pos­ted a suc­cess­ful 9-4 re­cord and took his team to the league semi­finals. Even bet­ter for him, he re­turns a core group next year head­lined by Wil­lis and fel­low ju­ni­ors Jack­ie Ha­gen and Za­hirah Brinkley. The team will lose seni­or for­ward Lovely Ac­cilus to gradu­ation, but the Vik­ings can off­set that by bring­ing back ju­ni­or guard Briyah Hill, who missed this sea­son with a torn knee lig­a­ment.

The first-year head coach says there was a lot of on-the-job train­ing for both him and his team, but he’s already look­ing for­ward to watch­ing his team grow and de­vel­op in pre­par­a­tion for next sea­son.

“I was able to grow a lot as a coach and learn a good deal my­self,” Mon­as­tra said. “As a coach you can al­ways learn more, and if you think you can’t then you should prob­ably just get out of coach­ing.

“Our play­ers are fo­cused and ready, and we’ll bring a lot of tal­ent back. We’ll start train­ing in a few weeks and we’ll zero in on get­ting bet­ter in all as­pects. We fell short of our goal and we want to im­prove. We’ll set the same goal next year and work even harder to see if we can get there.” •• 

End­Frag­ment

You can reach at emorrone@bsmphilly.com.

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