The Pope John Lions girls basketball team has had tremendous success to their 2022-2023 season so far.
Ater ending 2022 on a six-game winning streak, the Lions entered 2023 determined to win the five games before they would face the Sparta Spartans on Jan. 10. The momentum for 2022 allowed the Lions to do just that.
The journey began on Jan. 2 when the Lions hosted the Wallkill Valley Rangers. The Lions dominated the Rangers in the first quarter, ending with a 20-3 lead after the quarter ended. From there, the Lions cruised to a 70-39 victory, beginning 2023 with a win and extending their winning streak to seven.
Two days later, the Lions left their home gym at Pope John with another crushing win over the Mendham Minutemen by a score of 70-27. On Jan. 6, the Lions went on the road for the first time in 2023, defeating the Morristown Trojans 53-31. Through all of these victories, the Lions had players stand out which helped the entire team to gain momentum.
Freshman Addy Platt was one of the key players.
“The younger players on the team, like me, are extremely lucky to have the upperclassmen here on the team to help lead and guide us,” said Platt after the win over the Minutemen. “Our team culture wouldn’t be the same without them. My individual success so far this season would not have been possible without the great coaches and teammates I’m surrounded with.”
The final two games leading up to the game against the Spartans were also dominant performances from the Lions. On Jan.7, the Lions took down Franklin 71-47 followed by a hard-fought 57-42 victory on Jan. 9 over the Chatham Cougars. With a record of 12-1, the Lions were looking like they couldn’t be stopped.
Senior Maddie Rento was happy with the way that the girls were able to rebound from their initial loss to spring to an excellent season.
“After our loss against (the) Montville (Mustangs), we began to build our team confidence and showed that we could work together to be a successful team throughout the rest of the season,” said Rento. “Our young core has really stepped up to the challenge of playing on the varsity level because the varsity level is not easy, and I think they’ve done an incredible job at making a name for themselves.”
Lions Head Coach Kevin Houston sees how hard the girls work and is very proud of how that has translated into their gameplay.
“I think they work very hard during practice,” said Coach Houston. “I try to make practices harder than games because it’ll make games easier on the girls. Even with a tough practice standard, the culture that the girls have built is incredible for them to become better players. They push each other to be better, and they talk to each other about anything.”