Showing Perseverance, Grit for PHS Girls’ Hoops, Hennessy Traveled Circuitous Route to Senior Day
FINAL DRIVE: Princeton High girls’ basketball player Brynne Hennessy drives to the hoop in recent action. Senior guard Hennessy ended her career on a high note, helping PHS to a 39-29 win over Princeton Day School last Thursday on her Senior Day and a 39-29 victory over New Egypt last Saturday in the season finale. The Tigers ended the 2021 campaign with a 7-3 record. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Brynne Hennessy traveled a circuitous route to her Senior Day for the Princeton High girls’ basketball team.
Having played on the junior varsity team for the first two years of her PHS career, Hennessy got promoted to the varsity last year only to miss nine games due to injury.
This winter, Hennessy wasn’t sure if she should play due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I was even a little bit apprehensive to come out this season with everything that is going on right now,” said Hennessy.
But there was Hennessy smiling with her parents and her older brother at one end of the PHS gym as the lone senior standing for the ceremony last Thursday as the Tigers hosted Princeton Day School.
“It has been an interesting four years to say the least,” said Hennessy, who served as a captain of PHS in both of her varsity campaigns.
“I love to play with these girls, this year was very special to me. We have a lot of freshmen who are really great and bring a lot of energy. We all get along really well. I know they are going to be great without me. I am excited to see where they go.”
While Hennessy went scoreless in the contest, she was excited to see PHS pull out a 39-29 win over the Panthers, a day after the Tigers had fallen 30-29 to their crosstown rivals.
“Yesterday, we had a lot of turnovers; we get panicked and then we make bad decisions,” said Hennessy. “We were really just focused on being poised together.”
Showing poise, PHS played well in building a 21-13 halftime lead.
“Today we came out, especially after playing them yesterday, knowing that we have to bring it from the first moment,” said Hennessy.
“We know we could have beaten them so we were really disappointed. We were focused on having the energy from the beginning today.”
After PDS narrowed the gap to 28-26 at the end of the third quarter, the Tigers rode the energy of freshman star Casey Serxner in pulling away to the victory.
“A lot of credit has to be given to our point guard Casey; she had an incredible game today,” said Hennessy of Serxner who had 20 points and four assists in the win.
“The main thing is that she is a very fast point guard and we didn’t have that last year. Now we are much more able to go fast and push it up the floor. We have gotten fast breaks.”
In reflecting on the team’s solid year which saw it end 2021 at 7-3 after a 39-29 win over New Egypt last Saturday in the season finale, Hennessy credited the success to an upbeat mentality permeating the squad.
“I also think the culture this year has been good, we all have energy and we are all getting along,” said Hennessy.
“In practice, we have started to go harder and also have a better time. This season is probably the most special to me just because it is able to happen. I am the only senior here and having all of these girls immediately become good friends has just been so meaningful.”
It meant a lot to PHS head coach Dave Kosa to see Hennessy enjoy a win on her Senior Day.
“They got us yesterday at their home court with their Senior Day, so let’s try to do it for Brynne today and we were able to do it,” said Kosa, who took Hennessy out of the game in the waning moments of the contest to a nice ovation from the fans on hand.
“She is not shooting the ball well for her standards but she was happy for everybody else. That talks about who she is. That was the first thing she said to me, I played good defense and I said you know you did. I told her I wanted to give you a curtain call because you deserve it. It is your day, I know she was mad coming out.”
It was a good day for PHS collectively as it rebounded from the tough loss at PDS a day earlier.
“We got out to a lead today, they came back, they are tough,” said Kosa.
“They have some good freshmen; Adriana Salzano hit some threes for them. We adjusted to that, we clamped down and then it was our poise towards the end where we got good shots and not making turnovers. I think that was the difference from yesterday to today.”
Freshman standout Serxner made a difference for the Tigers as she has all winter.
“Casey is a gamer, she is a competitor,” said Kosa. “She works her butt off in practice every day, sometimes people take that for granted. She works every second, whether it is defensively or offensively. She is almost a coach on the floor. She is really, really instinctual to be a freshman and to come in here and lead us, not just today, but I think in all of our victories this year. That speaks volumes for her.”
Hennessy, for her part, worked hard to carve out her role with the program.
“Over the past four years, I have learned a lot about perseverance and adversity because being on JV, I felt a little bit overlooked, especially sophomore year,” said Hennessy, getting misty eyed.
“Some of my teammates like Nora Devine and Sofia Aguayo were already playing with the varsity girls when I was still on JV. That was tough for me to deal with. I just put my head down and decided that I have got to work harder. It has taught me a lot about commitment. I am very grateful for the experience.”