T.S. Eliot in his poem “The Waste Land” called “April… the cruellest month.” It’s not that I disagree with Eliot. But for high school basketball players, coaches and fans, March can be the cruelest month –especially for the senior high school basketball player.
It is in March that the seniors’ seasons and high school basketball careers inevitably come to an abrupt halt — it’s when March madness turns into March sadness.
Kyra Rose, Caroline Kilduff and Kiera Tobin-Rosman
For the Lady Dogs’ basketball team and particularly its three seniors: Kiera Tobin-Rosman, Caroline Kilduff and Kyra Rose, the inevitable end came Friday night, March 4, as the Archbishop Williams Lady Bishops put a stop to the Rockland girls’ dream of a quarterfinal win at home, and their ultimate dream of a trip to the Sectional and State Finals. It was a year to the day since the Lady Bishops had defeated the Lady Dogs in the tournament semifinals. This year the game was much closer, 60-55, but that really didn’t offer much consolation.
The game was lost in one quarter, the 2nd. After leading 12-6 at the end of one quarter, Rockland saw Archies outscore them 21-6 in the second quarter, giving the visitors a 27-18 lead at the half.
Rockland played the Bishops even in the third quarter, but could not make any headway until late in the fourth quarter when, down by as many as 14 (50-36), Rockland went on a 19-6 run to climb all the way back to 56-55 with 44 seconds left. Bulldog Nation went wild and the tide seemed to have turned. But, as time wound down, Rockland, needing to foul, put the Bishops on the line. This gave Rockland three chances to narrow the margin, but the Lady Dogs couldn’t convert from the arc or underneath and the Bishops’ last trip to the foul line gave them their five point edge.
Kyra Rose had 27 points against Archbishop Williams. She ended the year with 305 total points and 1,268 for her career. photo Rockland High Sports.
It was a tough way to go out. Kyra Rose, once again, fought through double-teams and un-called fouls to hit for 27 points, including 11 for 14 from the free throw line. Caroline Kilduff gave it her all underneath the hoop, scoring six and grabbing nine rebounds with two assists, and Kiera Tobin-Rosman helped spark the furious comeback in the fourth quarter.
Erika Ochenduszko had 13 points and 13 rebounds giving Rockland a rebounding edge and Maddie Olsen got 8 points, two assists and three steals. In the beginning of the second quarter Adiza Alasa went down with an injury which shortened the bench considerably for the Lady Dogs.
And so, the 2015-2016 season has ended. But one last chance to see some of the Lady Dogs in action will be in the All-Star game slated for March 15 in Norwell at 5 pm.
Until then it’s time for reflection on the accomplishments that this team had, and how this “winter [they] kept us warm.”
First, for the first time in decades, the Lady Dogs ran their way to an undefeated South Shore League title, defeating their rival neighbors, Abington and Norwell two times each in relatively easy, but exciting games.
Second, in the very competitive Spartan Classic during February Vacation, Rockland won the first game beating up on D3 West tournament semifinalist, Hoosac Valley and competing well with D3 North power, St. Mary’s of Lynn.
Third, in their last two games of the regular season they beat two tough D2 teams. First was Hingham in an exciting rematch which saw Rockland mount a great second half comeback, making it one of the most exciting games of the year. And on Senior Night they defeated a tough Scituate team 54-39 in a tune-up before tournament.
Caroline Kilduff against Dedham in the first round of the tournament.
Kiera Tobin-Rosman photo by Paul Gilbrook
Fourth, Kyra Rose scored her 1,000th career point on Dec. 28 against Cheshire CT, and was voted Player of the Year in the South Shore League for the second time (the first was her sophomore year). She was a SSL All Star for all four years. With 27 points in her last game, she wound up with 305 points this year; her four year total is 1,268 points.
It’s all about defense for the Lady Dogs against Abington. Danielle O’Brien (3) Maddie Olsen, and Erika Ochenduszko made the SSL all-star team.
Fifth, the girls had four SSL All-Stars (Maddie Olsen, Danielle O’Brien, Erika Ochenduszko and Kyra Rose) and were a great team. Coach Mitchell was voted Coach of the Year in the SSL.
Through all of their practices, bus rides, team dinners and games, these girls, led by their senior captains, celebrated their companionship, their milestones and their exciting brand of basketball that was so much fun to watch! Their record of 18-4 is one of the best in history.
As an asst. coach, I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this four year ride of the seniors and of Coach Mitchell. It’s always disappointing when it ends, but the memories I’ve shared with this team, in summer leagues, Stonehill tournaments and the regular season itself, will stand out as really special. Of course, Lady Bulldog basketball is something special.
After the last game, Coach Mitchell, fighting back tears, told her players, particularly her seniors, that she would not trade them for any other players from any other team — such is their bond as a team, and their heart and passion for the game.
Good luck to the seniors; their talent, spirit and dedication have made us all proud.
“Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog.”