With the regular season in the books, the Newfield Trojans’ Girl’s Basketball team is preparing to put its 17-1 record to the test at the IAC Championships and the Section IV tournament. After rolling through its 18-game slate, Head Coach Brandon Steinorth opened up about his team’s abilities and its mindset heading into postseason play.
Mark Shelley: A large majority of your team’s wins this season have come by double digits. What has been the key to opening up the leads and, in most cases, winning with a comfortable margin?
Brandon Steinorth: I think we have a lot of different ways to open up leads. We’ve had three different kids with 20-plus point nights and a number of occasions where four players have scored in double digits. We’re proud of our ability to get to the rim, and we’ve got kids that can knock down shots as well. Defensively we’ve excelled in different ways. We have a lot of honest conversations as a team early in games as to what feels like the right formula on each given night. Most nights I feel like we’ve arrived at the right answer. It’s so nice to have options when it comes to personnel and different ways to go about our business on each end of the floor.
MS: How does your team look at their success throughout the regular season? Is it just a step on the way to a sectional title?
BS: Most of the regular season was a gauge to get a feel for how we stood in comparison with the rest of the section. We opened up at Delhi, who bounced us from the sectionals last year, then went on to win a state title. Winning at their place started to open our eyes of what we might be capable of. Class C is absolutely loaded in our section this year. You have Watkins Glen, two years removed from a state title, and Delhi, who won the state title in Class D last year. This past season, Bainbridge-Guilford made a state title run, and Moravia won their fourth straight IAC Championship. All of those teams have significant senior talent, as do Southern Cayuga and Odessa-Montour. Whoever is left standing after that tournament will have really earned it. We’re just happy if anyone includes us in the conversation of teams who might have a fighting chance of winning it.
MS: Since your lone loss, the team has come back and won eight straight games. What did it take for your team to quickly get over the bump in the road?
BS: The loss against Watkins Glen left us with some conflicting feelings. On one hand, we felt great about the fact we went toe-to-toe with a team that we view as maybe the best in the section. I thought that night would be a good litmus test on whether we belonged on the floor with a team of that caliber, and I think most people that watched that night would agree that we did. Counter to that, we were frustrated with the fact that we put ourselves in a position to win and then proceeded to score two points in the fourth quarter in route to a six-point defeat. We had two weeks before our next game, and it was a long time to wrestle with the positives and negatives from that night. The girls were antsy to get on the floor again and put that evening behind them.
MS: Who do you think needs to step up and be the “X factor” as you gear up for playoffs?
BS: We’re comfortable playing an eight-player rotation most nights. We’re getting offensive consistency from Jenna Goodwin and the work on the boards that Maura Wood-Ellis has provided. On nights when someone is struggling, we preach that we don’t need anyone to step in and be a hero. If everyone gives their best, that’s enough for me, and on most nights this year, its been enough to get us in the win column. MS: Your team is now ranked eighth in the state. How do you make sure that they don’t focus on rankings and keep their sights on winning games?
BS: I understand the right thing for a coach to say is that we really don’t pay attention, but that wouldn’t be true. It’s really fun hitting the refresh button each Wednesday and seeing your name among the best in the state. With that said, it’s the kind of thing that’s neat to tell your aunt at Christmas dinner, but it’s not the kind of thing that motivates the girls to play harder on Tuesday and Friday nights. I guarantee state rankings aren’t what push our girls to dive for loose balls or to make that extra rotation on the defensive end. They’re playing hard for their teammates and working hard to extend this season for as long as they possibly can.
MS: What would winning an IAC title do for your team’s confidence heading into the Section IV postseason?
BS: At this point last year, we were a 7-10 basketball team, hoping to close out strongly and maybe earn a home sectional game. A year later, we find ourselves in a game that we haven’t won since 1980. Pulling that off would allow us to enter the sectionals a bit more carefree, with a significant accomplishment already achieved. A team that desperately wants to win but isn’t afraid to lose is a dangerous thing.
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