The girls varsity basketball team captured its second straight New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) Class A title with a 64-60 defeat of Hotchkiss in the championship game on Sunday, March 5, in the Olcott Center.
In a demonstration of the strength of Founders League girls basketball, Loomis Chaffee, seeded No. 1 in the tournament, was forced to run the Founders League gauntlet in the tournament, defeating Taft School 71-49 in the quarterfinals, then Kent School 67-43 in the semifinals, before finishing the job with their win over the Bearcats. The championship put an exclamation point on the Pelicans’ season, which also included an undefeated Founders League regular-season title.
The start of the game couldn’t have gone any worse for the Pelicans, though, as they found themselves trailing by 18 points near the end of the first quarter on their home court.
It took a timeout from head coach Adrian Stewart and a few clutch baskets from senior Carys Baker to reignite the Pelican offense and the home crowd, and Loomis spent the rest of the second and third quarters chipping away at the Bearcats’ lead, until Loomis led 42-41 headed into the fourth quarter.
In the final eight minutes of the game, both teams went on runs, and with 30 seconds left on the clock and the scored tied at 58, the Pelicans used their last timeout to draw up what could be the game-winning play.
With the entire Hotchkiss team and everyone in the crowd thinking Loomis would run the clock down for a last-second shot, the Pelicans instead ran a quick inbound that caught everyone off guard and set up junior Jessica Roy for a corner three, which she drilled with 24 left seconds on the clock.
From there Hotchkiss was forced to foul in order to stop the clock and get an additional scoring opportunity, and even managed to convert on one of their possessions, but Jessica Roy stepped up once again and iced the game by making a free throw that gave Loomis a four-point lead with six seconds left in the game.
Baker capped off her career at Loomis with her second straight tournament MVP award after posting 24 points, six rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Right behind her was sophomore Abby Congdon, who finished off her impressive season with 17 points, five rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Junior Ke'iara Odume also shined in the big game, putting up 13 points, five boards, two assists, and two steals.
After the game Coach Stewart, who was named the NEPSAC Class A Coach of the Year at the end of the game, had this to say about the victory: “After falling behind like that so early in the first quarter, I couldn’t be prouder of the way the girls never panicked and calmly took care of their business. I’ve been so lucky to be a part of this team this year.”