By Jack Blessington, Lexi Nelson, Toby Morollo, and Sam Canavan
Last Friday night, Newton South’s basketball teams hosted DCL rival Westford Academy in a doubleheader for A Shot For Life Challenge night. The girls suffered a tough 47-46 loss to the eighth-ranked Grey Ghosts, but the boys emerged with a 61-55 victory.
Throughout the week leading up to the games, members of both South teams sold t-shirts to raise money for A Shot for Life. All proceeds from the night will benefit cancer research at Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital.
“I think it was a great event for an even better cause. I know A Shot For Life does a really good job with events like that and they raise a ton of money. It was great to just be a part of such a good cause,” senior boys’ basketball captain Sasha Hoban said.
The Lions opened the night with a hard-fought girls game that came down to the last few seconds. Senior captain Zoe Foster, junior Paige Ollivierre, along with freshmen Maria Ollivierre and Amari Turner, all had big shots that kept the score close throughout the game.
Westford’s Emily Bramanti hit a ¾ court buzzer beater to take the lead at the end of the first quarter. Going into the half, South trailed Westford 27-25. The game intensified in the second half as both teams came out with speed and aggression.
The game came down to the wire in the fourth quarter with both teams playing harder than ever. With a little less than a minute left, junior captain Veronica Burton, who had 25 points and seven steals on the night, made a key layup to give South a one point lead.
However, with their final possession, Westford got another bucket from Bramanti to regain the lead. The Lions were unable to score on their last possession to end the game.
The boys’ game was also close. Seniors Hoban and Oskar Coulter led the offense with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Although the Lions came out with a win, many players felt that it was not their best game.
“I think we played hard the entire game,” senior Daniel Chafetz said. “But as a team we need to work on playing smart and in control, as well as not making careless turnovers.”
Coulter agreed with Chafetz that the team needs to clean up its game.
“We have to start moving the ball and working more as a team on offense, and communicate more on the defensive end.”
Despite the frustration during the boys’ game and the girls’ narrow loss, the night was still a huge success. The teams raised over $2,000 for cancer research and the stands were full of enthusiastic South fans for both games.
“I love having the crowd get hyped at home games. They do a great job coming out and supporting us,” said Chafetz. “I really think it helps us play better when [the fans] are there.”
However, members of the girls’ team felt that the boys’ team received too much credit in regard to raising money.
The following Tuesday after the game, Newton South Principal Joel Stembridge acknowledged the fundraising efforts of the teams over the loudspeaker during advisory. However, the announcement was heard as “the boys’ team” who raised money as opposed to the script Stembridge was reading from which said “both teams.”
“It was sad though that Principal Stembridge gave all the credit to the guys team for raising all the money by themselves even though we raised a good amount maybe even more than them,” Ollivierre said. “Maybe if he had come supported the teams he would’ve known better in his announcement.”
Stembridge apologized for the announcement mistake.
“I fully understand that “both” could be heard as “boys”, and that the plural “s” at the end of teams did not come through. I knew from the beginning that the fund-raising effort was from the girls and the boys teams. Upon reflection, I should have more clearly said “both the girls and the boys” basketball teams.”
This past Tuesday, Stembridge made yet another announcement, apologizing for the misunderstanding and recognizing the girls’ teams fundraising efforts along with the boys’ team.
“I feel bad that the girls team heard this differently. I don’t blame them for being upset – I’m upset with myself for not making this more clear in my announcement,” Stembridge told Denebola.
The girls’ loss puts them at 11-3 and now sit at tenth in the state. They are scheduled to host Concord-Carlisle next Tuesday.
The boys now sit at 9-5 and travel to Concord Carlisle next Tuesday.