Raiders turning program around
By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Fri., Feb. 22, 2013
In previous years when players or coaches sat down at the start of the season and looked at their schedules to see what was a realistic record to finish with on the season, they marked a big “W” next to Enfield High School. That no longer happens, as second-year head coach Megan Willis has pulled a complete 180 with the program, putting it back on track for success while making sure that no game is a walk in the park, as the girls’ basketball team competes in every match.
On Feb. 14, the Enfield Raiders' season came to a close, on senior night, as they fell to the visiting Rockville Rams, 47-41. The loss was difficult for Enfield, as they led 32-26 after three quarters, but squandered the advantage and failed to send off the lone senior, three-year captain Rachel Kaliff, with a victory. The Rams' full-court press, half-court traps and defensive pressure proved to be too much, as they forced the Raiders into turnovers and rushed offensive looks, which resulted in the Rams' largest scoring quarter of the night, 21 points to the Raiders’ nine. Enfield was led by junior captain Maggie Richard’s 13 points and sophomore Hannah Lempitsky’s 10. Sophomore Olivia Caronna contributed eight, while Kaliff added six.
“We set team goals and individual goals before each game, and I really think most of them, if not all of them, reached those goals tonight,” Willis said. “We just happened to come up short tonight. It’s unfortunate because it was senior night, but Rockville is a good team.”
With the loss, Enfield’s record dropped to 6-14 on the season, which still doubled its win total from last season. A three-game increase from the season before may seem like baby steps to most, but for Enfield those three games were giant leaps. Prior to last season’s 3-17 performance in Willis’ first season, the Raiders were on a 66-game losing streak which left them winless in three consecutive seasons dating back to 2008-2009. To put this season in even more perspective, Enfield had the same total amount of wins this season as it had from the 2007 campaign until the start of this season - a span of six years.
“I am so pleased with this group; they are willing to do anything, and I could not be more proud of them,” Willis said. “It took some time to get there, but this year the team realized we can be a threat, which has a lot to do with the mindset being different. I’ve been telling them for a while that believing is half the battle. I’ve been trying to tell them that they are a good team and that they are a force to be reckoned with, and I finally I think they are buying into it and realizing that they are, which is half the battle.”
Despite losing Kaliff’s leadership and hard work on and off the court, Willis expects the Raiders to start off next season strong. The Raiders are a young squad and Willis expects many of her underclassmen to step in and have larger roles moving forward. Next year the Raiders return Richards, Lempitsky and Caronna, who will carry most of the offensive load, as well as junior Kristen Serafin, sophomores Shayenne Gonzalez and Victoria King, and freshman Erin Slavin, Alyaka Washington and Morgan Baskerville.