The J. Taylor Finley Middle School eighth grade girls’ basketball team was a powerhouse. The Falcons won many games by lopsided margins and also claimed victory in a pair of close contests.
Coached by Finley physical education teacher Timothy Madden, the 15-player squad was captained by Ainsley Lumpe and Julia Steinberg. Seventh graders Emily Plachta and Makaylah Frazier played “up” with the team.
The Falcons won home and away games against Lindenhurst, Nesaquake (Smithtown), Candlewood and West Hollow. Finley’s only two losses came against the same Commack team.
Lumpe and Plachta paced the Falcons with sharp play throughout the two month season. “Ainsley did a great job getting us into our offensive sets and leading the team as our point guard,” Madden said. “She also set the tone on defense with her relentless effort.”
Plachta was a standout at both guard and forward. “Emily is a multi-talented basketball player,” Madden said. “She handles the ball well, is a good shooter and plays excellent defense.”
Isabella Algieri, Alexa Amorison, Giavanna Devoe, Marina Durand, Sarah Giarraputo, Julia Gorecki, Kemberlin Hernandez-Veliz, Isyss Jones, Grace Kata, Lisa Martin and Sophia Severine rounded out the roster.
“It was such a great season,” Madden said. “It’s hard to pick one highlight, but one of the best accomplishments was beating West Hollow. We were down a few players for various reasons and everyone who was there stepped up and we won, 38-33. I was very proud of our effort.”
Another highlight came when Finley toppled Candlewood on its home court. “With less than five seconds remaining and the score tied, Grace Kata scored and we won, 36-34,” Madden said.
Once the uniforms had been collected and the balls had been put away, Madden had time to reflect on the campaign. “This was a hardworking team that made great improvements from the season,” the coach said. “I am very proud of each player on this team.”