Rocky Hill Country Day Girls Basketball Takes NEPSAC Title

by | Mar 14, 2024

Above: The Rocky Hill Country Day School Girls Basketball team after their victory over Vermont Academy March 3. Submitted photo

The Mariners beat the Vermont Academy Wildcats, 59-52

Submitted content

For the first time in the school’s history, Rocky Hill Country Day is the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Girls Basketball Champions after a thrilling 59 – 52 victory over Vermont Academy. Playing in Dedham, Mass., at a neutral site, the Mariner fans who traveled there were treated to a phenomenal basketball game. The Mariners held the lead through most of the game but never truly had the game in hand until the final seconds as the Championship was true to its intent with the best two teams in New England battling it out.

Rocky Hill started off slow with some turnovers and missed shots and the Wildcats jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead. Addie Mahar ‘27 (Wakefield) changed the momentum with a steal on a Vermont inbound play and that jump started the Mariners 8-0 run. Lily Sokol ‘26 (Middletown) made Rocky Hill’s first three field goals of the game and Dariia Serednytska ‘27 (Odessa, Ukraine) established herself inside, grabbing two offensive rebounds that put Vermont’s talented center in early foul trouble. The tenacious Wildcats regrouped and took advantage of some tired legs and scored some easy buckets to get back in the game before Sophie Mahar ‘25 (Wakefield) got to her spot for two deep three-pointers and Rocky Hill entered the second quarter with a 16-13 lead.

Both teams came out flying in the second quarter with tough play and aggressive defense, combining for seven total turnovers in the first 2 minutes. Darien Kiernan ‘26 (Cranston) came in and provided a huge spark by burying two three-pointers and playing aggressive defense. Halfway through the quarter, Rocky Hill found themselves with all the momentum and up 24-17. The Mariners were dominant in the paint and controlled the tempo on both ends of the court. Closing out the first half,  Ju’elle West ‘24 (Providence) made two huge buckets in the final seconds to send the team into the locker room up 32-22 at halftime.

With a final half to play, the Mariners bore down and locked in on defense. They successfully forced early off-balance shots and with their rebounding advantage across the floor continued to push the tempo on the offensive end. Vermont would not go quietly and consistently attacked the Rocky Hill interior to force their way to the free throw line and began to chip away at what had been a nearly 20 point lead. However, the Mariner shooters would go cold towards the end of the quarter and Vermont’s slow and controlled pace of play allowed them to march right back into the game as the momentum swung yet again.

Vermont continued their third quarter scoring on a 21-4 run, they brought the game back to within 2 points midway in the final quarter of play. Nerves and tensions ran high as the Mariners tried to put the game out of reach with several deep three-pointers that Vermont easily collected and turned into points. Playing from outside in, the Mahar sisters worked the ball inside to Lily and Dariia for points in the paint to break the Wildcat charge. With breathing room again, the Mariners settled back into their game with Dariia leading the way inside with multiple offensive rebounds and a big put-back bucket to not only take time off the clock but also come away with much needed points. Her efforts weren’t done as she raced back down the court and took a big charge to give Rocky Hill the ball with :38 seconds remaining. At the buzzer, the scoreboard read 59-52 giving the Rocky Hill Girls Basketball team their first ever NEPSAC championship!

There were contributions from all over the roster but for great reason, Addie Mahar (15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals, 6 deflections, 1 charge taken) was named the Championship Game Most Valuable Player for clutch shots, tenacious defense, and great decision making throughout. Additionally, Head Coach PJ Thibodeau was selected by his peers as the NEPSAC Class D “Coach of the Year” for his season-long efforts to lead this squad to the title. The team is excited to hang their banner in the Sharpe Gymnasium alongside the other New England and Rhode Island state championships Rocky Hill has won in the last few years. However, few will be as special as this first ever title for the Girls Basketball Program.

Addie Mahar, championship game MVP, holds the plaque while surrounded by teammates. Submitted photo

Addie Mahar (15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals, 6 deflections, 1 charge taken) was named the Championship Game MVP for her clutch play in the 2nd half and her usual unwillingness to lose! After the game, Rocky Hill Girls Varsity Basketball Coach P.J. Thibodeau was selected as the NEPSAC Class D “Coach of the Year.”

A number of other Mariners had key contributions to this win:

Dariia Serednytska – 12 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals; 2 charges taken

Lily Sokol – 11 points, 11 rebounds

Sophie Mahar – 9 points, 2 assist, 7 steals

Aliona Nikulina – 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks

Darien Kiernan – 2 massive 3-pointers in our 1st half run, 2 assists

Ju’elle West – 2 huge baskets to close out the 1st half

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