Season of strong growth puts RCS girls in the sectionals

By John Bernhardt
As Lisa Faraci sees it, there is no magic behind the meteoric rise of the Roxbury girls’ basketball team this season. For Faraci the improvement of her Rockets is all about education. Her Rocket squad is young and eager, shows a ton of heart of the floor, and is resilient and eager to learn.
“The girls love the game and are listening, learning and working on the things we’ve been talking about every day,” explained Faraci.
The basketball education of the Rockets continues with a new lesson on Wednesday, Feb. 19 when the Rockets host Afton in Section IV, Class D opening round action.

Back on track
The 2014 season has been a basketball Renaissance of sorts in Roxbury. The Rockets went 12-3 in the Delaware League, 12-5 overall and have won their last seven straight. The 12 wins mark the highest win total since the turn of the century when Duane Ely’s Lady Rockets went all the way to the New York State Final Four.
Faraci notes that it’s not like her Rockets have come together all at once. The gains the Roxbury girls have made have been incremental and are part of a learning process. And, even in Roxbury’s recent successes, Faraci emphasizes her Rockets continue to learn new lessons each and every game. The sectional opener is simply another day at basketball school for Roxbury.
Only two seniors can be found on the Roxbury roster, pointing to promise and potential moving forward. Lizzie Davis starts as one of the Rockets forwards.
“Lizzie has pulled down some big rebounds and does a nice job on defense She’s gaining more and more confidence in her shot during the second half of the season,” said Faraci.
Faraci applauds senior Lisa Boyke for adding depth at both the forward and center positions for the Rockets.
“The girls are gaining confidence every game and starting to think big,” Faraci spelled out. “This is an athletic group. They’re competitive people. They understand the progress our team’s made. Everything we do now is a building block to the future.”

Moving forward
Two games have been huge boosts to the confidence Faraci talks about. After the holiday break Roxbury squared off against Gilboa without the services of their sophomore center and leading scorer Stacey Sprague. The Rockets had dropped their first meeting against Gilboa earlier in the year.
“Our girls knew they couldn’t depend on Stacey that night,” noted Faraci. “For us to compete the guards and forwards had to step up. They meet the challenge.”
Lesson learned.
It was full steam ahead for the Rockets with one victory following another. The second confidence builder came last week against Davenport, the Delaware League upper Division champions.
Faraci explained her young team entered the court focused and intense that night, and maintained their level of intensity the entire game. The Rockets took care of the ball, a huge factor when facing Davenport’s vaunted pressing defense.
Several factors have helped shape the Rockets’ improvement. For starters, the Rockets have a solid understanding of the importance of good shot selection and seem to understand the limits of their shooting range.
“We tell the girls if they have a good look at the basket they should take the shot,” said Faraci. What’s a good shot for one girl might not be for another. Understanding that fact has improved the Rockets’ chances of putting the ball through the nets.
Part of Roxbury’s offensive success comes from running the offense through the high post. Jade Meehan, an athletic sophomore, mans the high post for the Rockets. A good passer with the ball in her hands, Meehan boosts the scoring opportunities of Roxbury’s inside threat, Stacey Sprague. And, Meehan, fast with an explosive first step, has been picking up her scoring game as the season progresses.

All the right moves
Finally, Roxbury’s transition game continues to evolve. Junior point guard Shannon Sprague and sophomore shooting guard Devin Fox are good students learning to read different situations on the floor and get out and go. Pressure Rocket defense in the backcourt also creates offensive chances.
Faraci emphasizes that every girl on her team has an important role. A pair of juniors, Haley Mosley and Michaela Jordan, are fairly new to the game but are making strides. As Faraci sees it, part of her challenge is to make sure all her girls are having fun and keep moving forward.
“Every day’s another stepping stone,” says the Roxbury coach.
The Rockets hope to gain a solid footing as they take their next step forward in their Section IV opener against Afton in Roxbury.