It was a highly accomplished group of girls who took the floor for Indian Hills on opening night of the high school basketball season. And it showed.
The Braves romped, 58-35, over Paramus at home Dec. 16. Most of the girls are back from a 13-13 team, along with the addition of a transfer student. "We're a very athletic team," coach Julie Haledjian said recently. "If we play the way I know we can play and put it all together, I expect very big things this year."
This also is an A-Plus team as five of the top seven girls have first names beginning with that letter, and another's last name begins with an A.
The seniors are Aileen Carey, Alex Martins, Amy Weisse and Kayla Rock. The juniors are Angela Saric and Amalee Boggio, and one sophomore expected to see action is Savannah Aboyoun, a transfer from Ramapo.
Some of them have gathered a few court milestones.
Last year, the team set a school record for the girls' program with 723 rebounds. Carey holds the school record for steals in a
season (133) and career assists (143).
Here's the team, with quotes from the coach:
Carey, 5-foot-4 guard: "Our point guard, very quick and strong and attacks the basket. Aileen's very good at dishing out, finding her teammates. She'll find a way."
Martins, 5-5 guard: "Alex is a strong shooter, specifically from the three-point line. She had three threes against Paramus. And, whenever it's needed, she steps up to the forward position for defense and makes big stops."
Rock, 5-9 forward: "Kayla played as a freshman and now she's back as a senior. She loves the corner shot. She's a great team player and she'll do anything to get her teammates the ball."
Saric, 5-10 forward: "Angela was our high scorer and has the school record of 235 rebounds in a season. She started the season with a double-double, 17 points and 12 rebounds, against Paramus. She's strong, an athletic body on the floor. She will not give up until the ball is in the hoop, rebounding and working the ball up the court."
Boggio, 5-6 guard: "A strong finisher, very good defender quick on her feet, always looking for the steal. Amalee's very quiet, but she makes noise when she's on the floor."
Playing in an extremely tough, senior-laden league — the Big North Freedom Division — the girls still managed a few awards last year. Saric was first-team all-league and honorable mention All-County, while Carey and Weisse made honorable mention in the league.
Besides Saric's double-double, the opening win featured 11 points from Martins, 10 from Carey and nine from Boggio.
"In my four years as coach, this is my hardest-working team," Haledjian said. "Last year, we made The Record's Top 25 list twice during the season, at 16th and 19th. But we weren't in this year's Preseason Top 25."
That irks the girls overall and, much to the coach's delight, it drives them.