Dribble, Pass, Shoot.

Girls Varsity Basketball 2018-2019

The dribbling of basketballs echoes across the court. The sound of sneakers squeaking fills the gym. There are only 10 seconds left to make the final shot. Sweat runs down the players’ faces. Hearts pound as the ball flies through the air.

At UPA, the Girls Varsity basketball team’s season lasted from November to February. The season ended with an outstanding record, shooting over 47 percent from the field and ending the league play with 11 to 1. The team consisted of three freshmen, eleven sophomores and one senior. At tryouts, coach Richard Prizznick accepted everyone onto the team, striving to assemble a team to help players learn and develop their basketball skills.

Freshman Ashritha Cheeyandira has played on UPA’s basketball teams since seventh grade. Throughout this season, she learned how to dribble better and was able to play a new position in the last league game.

“Mr. Prizznick started to put in nonstarters, and I feel good when they make a basket,” Cheeyandria said. “[At the last league game] Tania and Phoebe got to make a shot, so I was really proud of them.”

On Feb. 27, the team played the last league game against Latino College Preparatory at St. Thomas More High School and scored 54-12. All of the players were given the opportunity to play different positions in the game, showing how much they have grown in their abilities.

Prizznick has coached the last two years of high school girls basketball at UPA. He has been delighted to see player and team development, enthusiasm and communication.

Here’s the best part. When the player hasn’t made a basket all season long and the last game they make their basket and they’re overjoyed. That’s what really rings my bell and makes me happy.

— Richard Prizznick

At practice, the players start with physical training, which consists of running and dribbling in order to build up the muscles and quads they need in order to play basketball. Every training session is different because Prizznick wants to teach the girls thinking plays, not memory plays. Although memory assists a player, they will only be able to play a single position, but they need to be adaptable in playing multiple positions.

“Our first game was against a [competitive] team that’s out of our division, which kind of scared the girls in the beginning,” Prizznick said.

The game occurred at Harker Academy and the team lost 65-24, emotionally lowering the players’ spirits. However, as the season continued, they won 14 games, and the players regained their confidence.

“[Before games] I tell them that I’m going to run up the score because I want them to know that I have confidence that they can win and confidence that they can win high,” Prizznick said.

Prizznick advises the team on what offense and defense they are running, in addition to who will play the positions. The higher the team scores in games, the higher the team places in playoffs. The team finished their last league game in February and is currently competing in a series of playoffs.

“After a game, I tell the team what they did great and I ask them three things they have learned during the game,” Prizznick said. “Then, I cover one to two things they could have done better.”

Prizznick uses this strategy to help the girls incorporate what they have learned into their thinking process at future games.

A great leader in my eyes is someone that can take each and every individual’s strength and bring them all together to recreate something powerful.

— Jacqueline White

Senior Jacqueline White, the captain, has been playing basketball for almost nine years and is the only senior on the team. Her last year of basketball is bittersweet for her because she will miss everyone’s personalities having connected with each individual player throughout the season.

She refers to basketball as her safe place, but does not plan on playing basketball in college for she wants to find new interests.

“School is extremely important and it can be hard at times to juggle both school and basketball,” White said. “Basketball takes up a lot of time from school, so if you do decide to try out on the basketball team, make sure to always be organized.”