By: Alec Eskin, Jeremy Park, and Ben Hoyt
As the clock hit zero, the Jags’ bench stormed the court, Jag Nation sang a victory chant, and the Garnet Valley Jaguars were the 2022 Central League Champions.
It’s their 6th title in the last eight seasons and caps off a Central League season to remember.
Garnet Valley was able to pull off this run after an 8-9 2020 season, missing the District Playoffs and losing to Harriton in the Central League Playoffs. They have come a long way from just a year ago. Sophomore Emily Olsen, who has been a large contributor to the team this year said about a return to normalcy, “During that Covid year, I was injured, so actually being able to play with everyone is amazing”. There could be many reasons as to why this team was able to play at such a high level again, but a lot of it has to be credited to the leadership of the seniors, the development of the underclassman, and the patience and discipline of the coaching staff.
This game featured two teams that were not expected to be in the Central League Championship Game. Garnet Valley was the number five seed and Marple Newtown the three, out of 6 teams that qualified. It was a battle of the cats, with the Jaguars and the Tigers facing off in their second game against each other this year. Earlier this season, GV and Marple engaged in one of the best games in the district this year, with the Tigers getting the better end of an overtime victory. The Jags, however, turned the tide when it mattered most, with a 39-27 victory.
“We trust each other and we work hard and we were fueled by how much we just wanted to win.” Carly DiSabatino on how the Jaguars were able to go all in for this game.
The offensive story of the game was simply put, Haylie Adamski. The freshman torched Marple’s defense for 21 points, including 11 in the first quarter and five total 3s. Her rookie year starts off with a league championship and looking forward to the next three. “I am so beyond happy, I can’t even express it right now, it’s just a great feeling.”
The Jaguars started out red hot, up by ten after the end of the first quarter 17-7, thanks to Adamski and her three straight 3s. Also, the Jaguars had that suffocating defense tasked with stopping a duo of great shooters in Mary O’Brien, Ellie DiBona, and Nikki Monstardi. Marple Newtown only got two buckets the entire first quarter, both on threes that would account for their only made shots the entire first half.
The second quarter was much of the same for the Jaguars, where they put themselves at even more distance from the Tigers. This time, Emily Olsen was Garnet Valley’s main source of offense, getting five of their seven points in the quarter and one of which was a three with under a minute to go. The other big story was that Garnet Valley only allowed one point in the second quarter. The Jaguar defense was great all game, but it really was prominent during the second quarter.
Mostardi led the Tigers in scoring with 14 points, which accounted for about half of their points. Most of them came in the third quarter when the Tigers started a comeback, starting out with a 9-0 run in the third quarter. However, Possenti, DiSabatino, and Adamski shut down their offense which was high flying all year long and which allowed them to upset Springfield on Saturday.
“We knew they were going to make a run, they’re an excellent team, they’re capable of scoring a lot of points. We got a timeout, gathered ourselves, we knew they were going to make a run, talked about it at half time, and said let’s get back to the basics and fundamentals.” Coach Woods on how they were able to counter attack Marple’s run to start the second half.
The fourth quarter saw the Jags officially put away the Tigers, extending their lead to double digits thanks to a slew of Haylie Adamski buckets. From there on out, the Jaguars were able to run out the clock to win the game and the Central League Title.
While the Jags’ offense has improved as the season has progressed, the defense looks drastically different from the beginning of the year. Ava Possenti has been consistently getting 4+ steals every game, and Kate Dugery along with Emily Olsen have manned the paint with their blocking. “We were just playing like it was another game and not looking at it as the Championship and defense won it for us.” Ava Possenti on the team performance today.
Nobody else quite filled up the points sheet, but senior Ava Possenti opened up the floor with seven assists and locked down defensively as usual with a Thybulle-Esque six steals. Senior center Kate Dugery scored four points in the first quarter and kept Marple’s points out of the paint. Emily Olsen put five in the basket and pulled down two rebounds.
“Me and Emily did a really good job of communicating and Haylie is down low, and we knew they were going to try and draw the fouls and to just keep our arms up.” Katelyn Dugery on how the Jaguars were able to play strong defense in the paint.
Even though it was the younger freshman and sophomores providing most of Garnet Valley’s points, this would not have happened without the guidance of the Seniors. A team can have a lot of talent, but no leadership. This Garnet Valley team has both, which has allowed them to play so well down the stretch of the season when no one thought what they did was going to happen.
“My teammates really had my back through the whole thing, I couldn’t do it without them,” Adamski said about what got the team the victory.
The other kind of leadership they were able to get was from long time veteran head coach Joe Woods. He is only three seasons separated from a trip to Hershey for the state championship game, which they lost. In these kinds of games experience always helps and that sure held true in this game.
“The girls and the players trusted each other and mesh more as a team. We have three freshmen and one sophomore and the seniors we were able to bring them together and midway through the season, we could see a little bit more of the growth particularly among our underclassmen.” Coach Woods on how the team was able to improve so much throughout the season.
The three captains: Ava Possenti, Katelyn Dugery, and Carly DiSabatino all have different stories on how they got to this point. However, the one constant is that all of them were able to use their experiences on and off the court to make this team better and will themselves and their teammates to a Central League Championship.
The CL Tournament seeded GV at 5 out of 6 teams. Coach Woods wasn’t going to let numbers tell the story. The only numbers that mattered in the end were the ones on the scoreboard, starting with a 47-30 win against 4-seeded Harriton, a 36-22 revenge victory at Haverford, and 39-27 to win it all.
The Jags move on to the first round of District 1 playoffs where they are seeded 14th, their first game this Friday at home against 19th-seeded Hatboro-Horsham.
If the Jags beat Hatboro Horsham on Friday they have secured their way to playbacks and have a chance to secure a spot in states by winning on the road at Methacton who is the three seed.