Last winter, the Stuart Country Day School basketball team won two games the whole season.
By this Christmas, Stuart had already exceeded that win total, taking a 3-2 record into the holiday break.
The Tartans didn’t waste any time showing that things were going to be different in 2013-14, opening the season with a 27-17 win over Villa Victoria on December 11.
“The girls came out and played a great first half,” said second-year Stuart head coach Dana Leary.
“We did a great job of rebounding the ball at both the offensive and defensive end.”
After losing 40-30 in its second game to Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, Stuart came back with a great performance in a 48-21 victory over Princeton Day School.
“We played good defense,” said Leary, reflecting on the PDS win.
“We have been trying to play a couple of different defenses and we matched up well with them. We did a good job in the man-to-man.”
Junior forward Nneka Onukwugha did a great job for Stuart in the win over the Panthers, producing a career game with 20 points and 19 rebounds.
“It was Nneka’s first double-double of the season,” said Leary. “She stepped up really big for us. She just comes to play. She is very calm, she just goes out and does her job and takes care of business.”
In their last outing before the break, the Tartans took care of business as they routed Noor-ul-Iman School 62-19 on December 19, rebounding from a 48-14 defeat to Pennington a day earlier.
“We had a tough loss to Pennington and I told the girls we have to learn from that,” said Leary who got 15 points from Onukwugha in the win with sophomore Kate Walsh chipping in 12.
“You are going to lose games and there are going to be bumps in the road, you have to take each game and learn from it and move on. The girls came out and just bounced back. We played well offensively. It was a nice win, all the girls played and everyone scored.”
Stuart’s nice start has the players feeling good about themselves heading into 2014.
“I think the girls are just more confident; they are starting to believe in themselves,” said Leary, whose team returns from the holiday break by playing at the King’s Christian School on January 8.
“We are communicating well on the court, I think they have better court sense. They are crashing the boards and securing the rebounds. They were talking that they were already past last year’s record.”
In order to add more wins to that record when it resumes play in the new year, Stuart will focus on being a little sharper at both ends of the court.
“We will be working on taking better care of the ball,” said Leary. “Defense-wise, we need to work more on on man-to-man and talking through screens.”