By Joseph Staszewski
St. Francis Prep entered this season expecting to be an improved, deeper and more mature team. Three games in the Terriers have begun to prove all of that and have already matched its win total of two from a year ago. This group now expects to win.
“Last year we would just say it and maybe our actions wouldn’t back it up,” senior guard Veronica Ganzi said. “You have to watch out for us.”
She certainly made her presence felt on both ends of the floor for St. Francis Prep in a 59-53 home win over Cardinal Spellman in non-league girls’ basketball Dec. 5. Ganzi scored 24 points and backcourt mate Melissa Dericioglu, who missed most of last season with a back injury, added 11 points, six rebounds and five assists. Kayla Hourany had eight points and eight boards.
“V playing defense as you know has never been her forte,” SFP Coach JoAnn Wagner said of Ganzi. “But that’s the difference, they all are buying in, too.”
The Terriers (2-1) are active in the passing lane and bigger in the paint with the addition of 6-foot-1 freshman Sofia Recupero. Ganzi has made a concerted effort to get better on defense and Dericioglu collected the first change of her career to give Spellman star Maria Backman (16 points) her fourth foul early in the fourth quarter. She popped up with a huge smile of accomplishment on her face as her teammates jumped off the bench in excitement.
“We practice it a lot, but I could never seem to get it down,” Dericioglu said. “I just stood there, closed my eyes and hoped for the best.”
St. Francis Prep used a 12-0 run over the second and third quarters to open up a 47-32 lead with 3:40 left to play. The Terriers, who are not used to playing with such as large lead, led Spellman (0-2) despite Backman scoring just one second half point, get back it the game. It got as close as 57-51 with 1:20 remaining before the SFP defense got two straight stops to seal the win.
The Terriers are happy with their start. To them, however, it truly is just a start.
“We got our second win in March [last year],” Ganzi said. “It the first month of basketball and we are already 2-1. It’s a great thing. I can’t wait for it to keep building up.”