Chatham Lady Cougars Basketball

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
Grace Conroy during the third quarter of the match against West Essex Regional High School
It’s mid-January at CHS, and that means one thing – basketball season. From the new intramural league to Winter Cougar Night, CHS students are getting more involved than ever in Cougar basketball.

This year, CHS has moved into a new conference (essentially a more competitive league), and the competition has been fierce for all the athletes. The new conference includes tough teams and old rivals, such as West Morris Central, Mendham, and Randolph.

Senior and captain Grace Conroy is very enthusiastic about the season. When asked about the conference, she said, “We actually have a really competitive conference and county this season, so there’s no dominant team, and it means that we have to be ready to go for every game and treat it like a rivalry game because there aren’t many easy games on our schedule.” Regarding the season so far, Conroy said, “We’ve had a few touch losses, but we just had a nice win on Cougar Night.” The women’s team beat West Essex 58 to 33 on Friday night.

The Lady Cougars are currently 6-4, and there are still many games to come. However, for the seniors on the team, these next games will be their last. Captain Conroy has mixed feelings about her final season. “It’s sad to see something that has been a big part of my life at Chatham ending, but I’m trying not to think about it too much because I want to make the most of this season and enjoy the time I have left. Playing the with five other seniors has been a great experience in high school, and I’m excited to see what we can accomplish in our last season together.” She and Kendall Davies, Conroy’s co-captain, are working hard to make sure the season is as amazing for the seniors as it is for the rest of the players. When asked about what it’s like to be captain, Conroy said, “I’ve been a big fan and watched Chatham basketball since I was little, so now it’s funny to be a captain of the program I grew up looking up to. I hope I’m doing a good job keeping everyone positive and making sure we’re playing together.”

Mr. Gaba, resident chemistry teacher and basketball coach extraordinaire, also had a lot to say about the season so far. “We got off to a rough start, due to our lack of experience, but we’ve been showing signs in our last couple of practices and games of becoming more consistent and going from a good basketball team to a very good slash great basketball team.” He and the rest of the Lady Cougars all have high hopes and expectations for the rest of the season. Coach Gaba continued, saying, “Part of our problem this year has been that we are our own worst enemy. We’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot with mental mistakes and a lot of turnovers and mistakes on the floor that are our own fault and not really the other team’s fault. So I think that as soon as we can cut down on hurting ourselves, we’re gonna be a tough team for many teams to handle moving forward.”

When asked about his predictions for counties and states, Coach Gaba was remarkably level-headed and optimistic. “As a coach, I’ve always believed that as long as you’re playing as well as you’re capable of playing, that wins and going deep in the county and state tournaments will take care of themselves. So we’re really just focused on taking care of our own business and playing as well as we can, and if we do that, then winning will just kind of follow suit.”

Although there are very few veteran varsity players, the Lady Cougars are doing their best to stay positive. “We’re doing well,” says sophomore and JV-varsity swing player, Emily Walczyk. “Gaba’s a really good coach.” She knows as well as anyone else how hard a team has to work in order to be successful, and, like Coach Gaba, she acknowledges the trouble of playing with new or inexperienced varsity players. “That’s the thing with high school sports, as opposed to, like, club sports,” she said. “You’re not playing with the same girls for your entire life. It’s harder because you’ve got one generation leaving, and a new one coming in the next year, so the team dynamics are always changing. It’s always rough in the beginning of the season, but you have to learn to play as a team.”

The basketball season will end in February or March, so show your cougar pride and come support the Lady Cougs!