At least, that’s usually the case. But fans and observers could be forgiven if — back in November — that appeared to be a long shot. After all, the Huskies had just one starter returning from last year. So, perhaps this was going to be a rebuilding year?
Nope, that’s not the way the Huskies saw it. They started to jell during offseason workouts, and that work translated into another fantastic season at Bishop Carroll. Rebuilding season? Nope. The girls went 23-6, won their second straight District 6 championship, and advanced to the PIAA Class A semifinals.
“They’re like a family,” Huskies coach Bob Gongloff says. “They had each other’s back. They worked hard for everything they got. It was great to be around these kids; they keep me young.”
Alyssa Martinazzi, a junior guard and the only starter back from the 2015-16 squad — until senior forward Jourdan Williams returned from injury during the playoffs — admits that the Huskies had a lot of question marks coming into the season.
“At the beginning, I didn’t think (we could accomplish this much),” she says. “But as the season went on, I knew what we were capable of doing. … I think summer league really helped a lot. We kind of got our chemistry started then. And then it carried over to the season, which helped a lot.”
“Over the summer, everybody developed into a shooter,” Gongloff adds. “I was feeling pretty good by the time the season began.”
And by the time it ended, his team was celebrating its sixth district crown in his 17 years at the school. The Huskies have also won two state titles (in 2002 and 2003) and finished second in the state twice.
All in all, Gongloff has had an extremely successful tenure at the school. He believes that the values he and his staff impart on the court complement the lessons the girls learn in the classroom.
“It teaches them a lot about life,” he says. “You have to work for everything you get. The kids are willing to be pushed. They know they can accomplish anything. It truly prepares them for life.”
And according to Martinazzi, the school’s four pillars — Spirit, Heart, Mind and Body — are essential to the team’s success.
“We have prayers before all of our games,” she says. “We pray for the teams every day. It’s good that our school does that. We don’t just go out and play: We keep God with us all the time.”
Keeping God with them on the court also informs their actions on it.
“We definitely try to represent the school the best we can every time we step on the court,” says Anna Haigh, a sophomore forward. “We know we have to play with class and sportsmanship and represent the school and the community as best we can.”
Many of the girls will be back next year. Considering their success this past season, it’s fair to ask: How far can they go in 2017-18? Martinazzi, for one, isn’t holding back.
“If I had to make a prediction,” she says, “if we all work hard, I’m going to say the whole way.”