Castleton, NY- Fall has come and gone, and with that, comes the start of the winter sports season. After a very successful Fall season, the Maple Hill High School Wildcats are back at it, but this time, on the hardwood.
With the season quickly approaching, let’s take a look into the girl’s basketball team that will be representing the Wildcats this year.
The Maple Hill Lady Wildcats upset their way through sectionals last year, most notably with a win over Patroon Conference rival Greenville in the quarterfinals of the Class C Tournament, before being defeated by a very tough Lake George team in the semi-finals.
That loss will now be nothing more than a chip on the team’s shoulder, acting as that extra push to get better.
“The loss to Lake George is a huge motivation for this season,” said junior Taylor Gerrain. “I’m sure the rest of our team, including myself, has hoped to get to Hudson Valley for years now. That would be a huge accomplishment.”
Returning everyone but two players, the Wildcats have the perfect combination of youth and experience needed to be successful in a top-heavy Patroon Conference. Last season, seniors Kayla Hanrahan and Courtney Unser played huge roles in the Wildcats success both on the court and off the court, constantly teaching the young Wildcats how to be successful at the varsity level. That perfect combination of youth and maturity is something that will definitely play to the Wildcats advantage this season.
“We do have a lot of returning players but we also have a pretty young team,” senior guard Tori Olsen said. “When we play together we are a pretty strong team.”
The list of key games for the Wildcats feature two matchups against the Greenville Spartans, a newly-founded Patroon Conference rival. For Tori Olsen and all of the Lady Wildcats, January 7th is a day that has been marked on the calendar for months. A chance to play Greenville in the friendly confines of the Maple Hill gymnasium is something that Olsen has been waiting for since the end of last season.
“I’m definitely looking forward to playing [Greenville] seeing as we went two and one against them last year. It’s gonna be a good matchup”
It has been the task of Taylor Gerrain, who is just a junior, to matchup against one of the best players in the league, in Ava Fitzmaurice of Greenville. The past two matchups between the two childhood friends have played each other, Gerrain has gotten the upper hand defensively, limiting the Spartan phenom to little scoring. This matchup is something Gerrain looks forward to, but that’s not the only game started on her calendar.
“Greenville is definitely a team I look forward to playing. I [also] look forward to playing Hudson, and bringing our new talent into them, [and] hopefully come out with a better outcome,” mentioned Gerrain.
Hudson is a team that got the better of the Wildcats twice last year on their way to winning the Patroon Conference.
It’s not an understatement to say that the Patroon Conference is up for grabs this season with a number of serious contenders for that top spot. Look for the Wildcats to make a run for that title, and that all begins tonight, at 7:00 PM, as the Wildcats take on Albany Leadership, a charter school that was an addition to the conference last season.
As Gerrain and Olsen mentioned, the Lake George loss in the sectional semi-final will provide extra motivation to compete in every game, but there is one more factor that will elevate the Lady Wildcats to another level this season.
On 4th of July Weekend, long time Schodack Central Schools Superintendent and former Principal Robert Horan passed away suddenly. “Bob” Horan was a huge figure in not only the success of the athletes but also the success of the students. A true selfless personality shined through Bob everywhere he went.
This year, the Maple Hill Wildcats are playing for him in every sport, and will continue to play for him through thick and thin. To show it, all the Maple Hill Varsity sports teams will be sporting a “RH” patch on their uniforms.
“Playing for Mr. Horan is a huge part of what we are going to do this season,” Gerrain said. “We want to make him proud as he was always a huge supporter of Maple Hill sports, basketball especially.”
“Mr. Horan always made appearances at any game he could and it’s going to be tough not seeing him there anymore but I’m sure he will be watching over us at every game and we all will be playing for him this year,” added senior Tori Olsen.
Win or lose, Robert Horan will be with the Wildcats during every play for years to come.
The Wildcats open up league play tonight against the girls from Albany Leadership. Tip off is set for 7:00. If you can’t make it, tune into “The Cube” for a live stream of the event. The live stream will start just before 7:00, with me and Dylan Rossiter on the call.
For the full Lady Wildcats’ schedule, click here.
-Connor Hall (@518SportsChall)