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Girls’ Basketball 2011: Season Review

March 15, 2011
The girls before a January 13 matchup with Port Jeff

Last season’s girls’ basketball team won the League, County, and Long Island Championships before falling in the Regional Final. Few thought the girls could equal what that squad accomplished after graduating Sadie Singer, Candace Baker, and Alex Angove and losing Emily Carmel to transfer. However, with a strong core of senior leadership, this year’s team exceeded everyone’s expectations, except their own, en route to another banner season for our girls’ basketball program.

A difficult non-league schedule contributed to their 15-7 record, but more importantly the girls finished 11-1 in the league to capture their seventh consecutive League VIII Championship. However, on January 11 it may have been hard to envision all of the success they would enjoy at the end of the season. With their aura of invincibility shattered by a upstart Pierson/Bridgehampton team, who snapped a string of 23 consecutive league victories and a run of 62 wins in 63 games, the Bears responded with a 42-point shellacking of Port Jeff to ignite a nine-game league winning streak that gave them the title. The run included a huge win at Pierson/Bridgehampton and a thrilling overtime victory at Southold to clinch the outright league title.

Their success continued into the postseason where they rode their staunch defense to wins over Southold in the county semifinals, Pierson/Bridgehampton in the County Championship, and Friends Academy in the Long Island Championship before they fell in valiant fashion to Haldane in the Regional Final. A season flush with highlights included:

  • A seventh straight League Championship
  • A sixth straight Suffolk County Championship (sixth most in Suffolk County history)
  • A third straight Long Island Championship
  • Having the fourth best defense in Suffolk, yielding just 33.9 points per game
  • Brannon Burke’s 1,000th career point
  • Brannon Burke & Jess Winston hitting five 3-pointers in one game–tied for third most in Suffolk this season
  • Brannon Burke’s 35 point game vs. Port Jeff (third most in Suffolk this season)
  • Brannon Burke’s 17.3 points per game average–14th best on Long Island and seventh in Suffolk
  • Natalie Istrati’s 11.3 rebounds per game–fourth best on Long Island and second in Suffolk
  • Jess Winston’s 3.6 assists per game–seventh best on Long Island and third in Suffolk
  • Jess Winston’s 32 three-pointers–16th best in Suffolk

Nothing would have been accomplished this season without the leadership of our seniors. It will be an impossible task to replace each of them next year, but a young crop of girls will try to carry the torch that has been passed down to them.

Heart. Sacrifice. Desire. These are just a few of the many words one could use to describe our dynamic forward, Brannon Burke. Brannon knows one speed: full throttle, and throughout her three-year Stony Brook career she has helped the Bears capture 12 championships. Each night, no matter if she is burning up with a fever or struggling through back pain, she will quietly go about leading our team to victory. Her strength and leadership enabled the Bears to accomplish a great deal of success and as the fifth member of the 1,000 point club, joining Rebecca Fischer ’99, Kristyn Dunleavy ’07, Danielle Spiliotis ’09, and Sadie Singer ’10, her legacy will not soon be forgotten.

Natalie Istrati‘s presence in the paint was invaluable to the team this season. Her ability to rebound and score underneath the basket was a huge boost to a squad that at times had difficulty scoring. Her game of the season was a 30-point, 15-rebound performance in which she outscored the entire Port Jeff team by ten, but it was not her most important game of the season. During the last week of the regular season the entire campus held its collective breath when Natalie showed up to class on crutches with a possible stress fracture in her foot. Suddenly, thoughts of a league and county title seemed improbable, much less a Long Island crown. However, after being cleared for action a week later she played through discomfort to help the Brook make their yearly playoff run. In the County Championship against Pierson/Bridgehampton she came off the bench after sitting out the first half to score six big points in the third quarter to help the Brook sustain their lead in the face of a furious Whaler charge. Her improvement and growth in confidence over her two-year varsity career has been staggering and had a direct impact on what our team was able to accomplish.

Any successful squad needs a stalwart teammate, someone you can rely on not only to play well night after night, but to keep with a level head no matter what the situation. Jess Winston was that teammate for the 2010-2011 Bears. No matter how the game is unfolding, you can expect her to be rocksteady and to do exactly what is needed. If her shot isn’t falling she will simply feed Brannon or Natalie and rack up the assists. Her defense was also a vital cog this season as she routinely corralled the opposing team’s point guard as the spearhead of our aggressive defense. Jess will leave a hole not only as a great player but as a consummate teammate.

Postseason Honors

Brannon BurkeAll-Conference
Natalie IstratiAll-League
Jess WinstonAll-League
Tadiwa MadengaAll-County Academic
Amy HelmSuffolk County Class C Coach of the Year


Bear Paw Thumbnail

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    March 20, 2011 3:24 PM

    Dan, great description of the year and the seniors’ contributions.



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