After losing its first three games in 2013, the Stuart Country Day School basketball broke through with a 32-24 victory over Bound Brook on January 18.
For first year head coach Dana Leary and her youthful squad, the triumph was an important step forward.
“That was a great win for us as a team,” said Leary, who got 11 points and six rebounds from junior Maggie Walsh in the victory with senior Summer Ramsay-Burrough contributing 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“Every game, we are seeing a lot of positives. I would say the girls needed that game. They see that they can go out there and they can compete.”
The Tartans showed some flashes of competitive spirit as they hosted Solebury School (Pa.) last Wednesday. The Tartans fell behind 11-4 after the first quarter but then played Solebury to a standstill in the second as they were outscored only 9-7.
“We were definitely off to a slow start there,” acknowledged Leary “[The second] was a much better quarter.”
While Stuart ended up losing 45-22, Leary liked the effort she got from her players in the second half.
“At halftime, I talked to them, I just felt there was a lack of intensity and fire out there today, especially on the defensive end,” said Leary.
“We weren’t really communicating with each other, no one was talking so I think that definitely picked up coming out of the half. I saw a lot more energy out there. What we talked about at halftime, they came out and did that.”
The Tartans have been energized lately by the play of freshman guard Harley Guzman and senior standout Ramsay-Burrough.
“Harley has been stepping up for us big time, especially in the last few games,” added Leary.
“I have also asked her to step up and be my point guard. She has been playing a 2 and a 3 for us for most of the season. Last week, I started her off at point and she has been doing a great job at it. Summer is on the boards and plays well defensively. She also brings senior experience which is very helpful to us.”
With Stuart averaging around 20 points a game, Leary is looking for her team to help themselves more at that end of the court.
“One of our goals is to at least put up points in all four quarters,” said Leary, whose club fell 55-18 to Nottingham last Monday to drop to 2-8.
“I see that in past games when we get shut out in a quarter, that’s when we really dig ourselves a hole and that is where teams are really able to extend their lead. We need to just cut down on turnovers and take care of the ball. That’s our main focus and something we continue to emphasize.”
Leary is confident that the Tartans will continue to progress as the season goes on.
“I think as we play more games and gain more experience, it is going to get better for us,” said Leary, whose team plays at Hamilton on January 31.
“We are a very young team but I tell them it is good that you are making mistakes because that is what we learn from and that is how we get better.”