They would not be denied a second year in a row.
After losing a heartbreaker in last year’s championship game on a free throw shot with no time remaining, the girls at Our Lady of Lourdes in Queens Village resolved to not only get back, but to win it handily.
“Hard work pays off,” said Lourdes’ coach Melvin Jones. “This is a small school and we do not get recognition for our basketball team, but maybe that will change now.”
Lourdes capped off an undefeated season with a 36-26 victory over St. Stan of Maspeth in the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) Intermediate Diocesan Championship game on Sunday, February 21.
Featuring eight players from New York Elite AAU (Amateur Athletic Union), Lourdes ran away with the victory in the second half after going on a 21-1 run in the third quarter. Coming out strong and sealing the victory early was important to Jones, especially after last season’s crushing loss.
“This one means a lot to the team and to the school,” said Jones. “We were dying to get back and prove that Lourdes has a tough team and last year was no fluke.”
Jones was so proud of his team that he gave them trophies and threw them a party at Our Lady of Lourdes in Queens Village on Friday, March 5. The coach’s trophies included awards for most valuable player, most improved player, rookie of the year, best jump shot, best defensive player, team leader and sportsmanship
“The girls battled all year,” said Jones. “We were the underdogs. Everywhere we went, the teams we played had huge gyms with banners hanging all over.”
Jones said that playing in a small gym where the bleachers are right on top of the players gave them a definite home court advantage. He also credited the parents for coming to every game and making themselves a factor in the outcome.
“All season, the parents were the sixth man,” said Jones. “The never missed a game no matter where it was. We played 18 games and they were at every single one.”
While giving out awards, Jones acknowledged complaints from some girls who maybe felt they did not get into enough games this season. He told them straight up exactly what they need to do if they want to compete for a spot in the starting five next season.
“Get your game up,” he said. “Practice over the summer, come back next year and get your game up.”