It can sometimes be a difficult transition when a new coach takes over a basketball program. A new system is put into place and the coach might focus on different aspects of the game that his new players will have to adjust to.
Fortunately for the Knights, they were able to learn quickly under first-year head coach Mark Gnapp and their significant improvement throughout the year suggests that the team will continue to grow under his leadership.
"It was very obvious that we got better as the season went on," explained Gnapp. "I got more comfortable, the girls got more comfortable with the system, and the results were great. For example, the first time we faced Franklin (top-ranked team in New Jersey) we lost by over 40 points. When we faced them later on in the county tournament we were up at half and were still winning with five minutes left. Just shows how much the girls improved throughout the year."
The Knights had plenty of other strong moments that should get people excited for the future of the program. They finished with a 13-12 overall record and went 7-3 in the division after finishing 4-6 in the division the previous two years. They also had a huge win over 11th-ranked Patrick School and also won their opening round match against Mater Dei in the NJSIAA Non-Public, South B tournament.
"I thought we had a lot of success this year," said Gnapp. "We lost some key players but remained very competitive and had some big wins. We played in a lot of close games and lost a handful of them and I am confident in the future we will be on the winning side of those."
Gnapp has good reason to think Gill will be winning more games in the future as he has three key players returning to the lineup next year. Caileigh Walsh '21 had a breakout season as she nearly tripled all of her career averages as she averaged 18 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks a game. Ella Fajardo '21 and Devyn Scott '20 also provided great game management and scoring skills for the Knights. Gnapp also expects Tori Goldin '20, Hayley Armstrong '21, Kayla Palaia '22, and Zyane Shepard '22 to play bigger roles next year.
"I am extremely excited about the future of this program," said Gnapp. "We have a lot of great, young players returning who will continue to improve. We will definitely miss the leadership from our three seniors Emma Fetrow, Gillian Fritzlo and Hayley Goldin as they really were the glue of the team but they set a good precedent for four years and I am excited to see what the other girls do in the following seasons."
Gill St. Bernard’s is a private, coeducational day school for students age three through grade 12, located in suburban New Jersey. Each of the three school divisions provides a rigorous, meaningful, and age-appropriate curriculum, and all students benefit from the environmental learning opportunities that exist on our 208-acre campus.