The Mount de Sales basketball team won 12 of its final 15 games last season, but the final one that got away is what the girls will use as motivation this year.
Just 10 days after the Sailors defeated St. John’s Catholic Prep 59-50 in a regular season game, they lost to the same team 51-47 in the 2016 Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference playoff semifinals.
“It was a heartbreaker,” Mount de Sales coach Trish Armstrong said.
St. John’s went on to beat Severn in the championship game.
This year’s Sailors have lofty expectations as they try to become the seventh different team to win the B Conference in the past seven years.
“Our girls really want to go far. They really want to go get this thing this year,” Armstrong said.
Last year’s Sailors went 15-10 overall and 11-5 in conference play.
“We got better as the season went on last year,” Armstrong said.
The top seven players in the rotation this year all played on the varsity last season.
They are led by junior guard Madison Burris (5 feet, 6 inches), an All-Conference selection last year.
Burris, who averaged 12 points a game, is a solid outside shooting threat along with Bridget Williams (9 ppg.), the team’s only senior.
“Both Bridget and Madison can really shoot the lights out of the ball.” Armstrong said.
Williams is being recruited by Johns Hopkins University and Dickinson College.
“Bridget worked so hard in the off-season and she developed a game where she can penetrate and drive and she is a good free-throw shooter too,” Armstrong said. “She really worked hard on her game.”
Williams and Burris are joined in the backcourt by junior Allie Berlin (5-3), who has varsity experience.
“She is little, quick as a cat and she can penetrate any little opening,” Armstrong said. “She is like a running back going through a hole.”
Junior Sydney Skalstad (6-1) and sophomore Abby Kuhn (5-10) return to the frontcourt after solid seasons last year on the varsity.
Junior Lizzy Gower (5-9) and sophomore Kristen Zaranski will also be in the lineup when Armstrong wants to go with a bigger squad.
“We have a lot of options there,” Armstrong said. “We’ve got seven girls that can start.”
Juniors Justine Birrane (5-4), Sophia Stewart (5-5) and Annie Kearney (5-4) add depth to the backcourt.
Birrane has varsity experience and Stewart and Kearney were on the JV last season.
Sophomore Lauren Sterner (5-11), a transfer from St. Timothy’s, and freshmen Sophie Wrisk (5-8) and Sloane Skalstag (5-7) bolster the frontcourt.
“They are soaking everything up and doing a very good job,” Armstrong said of the freshmen. “They are real promising freshmen. They are going to be players down the road.”
The Sailors opened the season on Nov. 28 with a 60-28 victory over Catholic High, of the C Conference.
Mount de Sales plays next at IAAM A Conference rival Seton Keough on Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m.
The Sailors will also play at Catonsville High on Dec. 20 at 6:30 p.m.
“We’ve got some big games coming up,” Armstrong said.