When every player on a team buys into their roles, especially the seniors, special things can happen. That’s exactly what occurred during the 2015-2016 season for the Cinnaminson girl’s basketball team. The Pirates tied the program record for wins, won the Freedom Division and secured the one-seed in the South, Group 2 Tournament.
Let’s take a look back at the season that was for the girl’s basketball (22-7, 6-1) team today, beginning with the chemistry that led to such a successful year.
“This senior class showed how important team chemistry and high character players are to a team’s success,” head coach Bret Jenkins said.” The character of these seniors are unmatched in my opinion on any high school team that I’ve seen. Their team-first approach and mentality was a major reason for our success. If the younger girls can take that from them, and continue it for years to come, then I know this program can continue to grow.”
The Pirates reeled off 11 straight wins to move to 14-2.
“I think the 11 game win streak was very important for us,” Jenkins said. “Not only was it the reason we got the 1 seed for the playoffs, but I think it did a lot for our confidence. I feel it showed that we could play with anyone, and showed the girls that our tough pre-season had value.”
A brief, three-game losing streak would not deter the task at hand; securing the one-seed in the tournament and winning the Freedom title for a second straight year and third time in four years.
Throughout the season the Pirates received timely contributions from a couple of freshmen and sophomores in Maddie Ogden, Maddie Parrish and Fiona Flynn. Junior Anne O’Malley was a rebounding force for Cinnaminson and her offensive game took off as the season wore on.
“With this being her (Ogden) freshman year, it took her some time to get going in the beginning. However, once she hit her stride about halfway through the season and gained her confidence, she became a huge asset for us, and a very big reason for our success,” Jenkins said.
“The other one I would say is Anne O’Malley. Anne was a huge threat for us defensively and rebounding the entire season, but as the season went on her offense really picked up for us, which was very important that we added another scorer. I think Anne can really build off of that and be a big scoring threat for us next year.”
Once back on track the Pirates took down Group 3 Pemberton, Haddon Township a second time and knocked off Holy Cross on the road for the Freedom crown.
“I would definitely say that our signature win was our road win against Holy Cross that clinched the division championship,” Jenkins said. “Beating a team as talented as them twice in the same year, and knowing they were the favorites to win the division, was a great accomplishment for the girls.”
Senior Marisa DiLeo scored her 1,000th career point in a win over Willingboro late in the regular season, which added to her accomplishments from the season. Earlier in the year she became the program’s leading three-point shooter.
By the time the season ended, DiLeo became the school’s leading three-point shooter.
“Marisa’s success should show the younger girls how much hard work truly pays off. Marisa’s freshman year she scored 19 points total, and only had 5 three pointers,” Jenkins said.
“She started working ridiculously hard in individual workouts, starting playing AAU basketball and really worked on her game, and is now the all-time three point shooter in school history, and now the 4th girl ever to score 1,000 points in a career. Hopefully they can see how it’s possibly to truly grow your game after your freshman year, and they put in the same amount of work.”
The 11-game win streak enabled the Pirates to become the one-seed in the South, Group 2 Tournament. Cinnaminson opened with a 60-16 win over Buena. They followed they up with a 40-29 win over Lower Cape May.
Cinnaminson’s season came to an end in the SJ2 semifinal round with a 55-43 loss to Haddonfield.
“From the wins I think we can learn the importance of earning home games in the playoffs. I feel being home really helped us in our 2 playoff wins,” Jenkins said of the playoff games. “As for the loss I hope we learned that we aren’t where we want to be as a program yet. We have made some great strides over the past 4 years, but we’re not at the top yet, and we have work to do to get there.”
Coach Jenkins offered his final thoughts on the season:
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team and what they accomplished. We reached every goal we set except for the Sectional title. A division championship, a 1 seed in the playoffs, 20 wins, and continue to improve throughout the year. This is a team that I won’t forget. Not just because of the success, but also because they had the best chemistry of a team I’ve been around for any sport.”
Check Cinn City Sports tomorrow for the Top 5 Girl’s Basketball Games of 2015-2016.
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