By Ryan Fitzgerald and Shapleigh Webster – Co-Editor-in-Chief & Senior Content Editor
The men’s and women’s basketball teams may not have finished the season the way they envisioned, but both squads celebrated Senior Day last month on February 20, with hard fought efforts and a broken record.
The women’s team came out victorious over St. Joseph, 77-58, and senior guard Katie Stopera finished with 30 points to become the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,247 points in her career.
“[Breaking the scoring record] was a bonus,” said Stopera. “[But Senior Day] gave me time to be grateful for all the years my parents have been there for me at every single one of my games. It was also awesome to win and hear the accomplishments each one of the seniors had before the game.”
The women’s team tallied 12 wins and 14 losses (5-6 in GNAC) for the season, however, they impressed with wins over formidable foes like the Western New England Golden Bears, and the Norwich Cadets. “It was really bittersweet being able to play with this group of girls one last time,” said senior guard Rebeka Costa. “They have become some of my best friends and even if our season didn’t end the way we wanted it to, I made memories with this team that I won’t forget.”
“It was probably one of the most fun games I’ve ever had playing,” said senior guard Deanna Barrett. “I owe that to my teammates and coaches.”
The men’s team lost an extremely close game to Suffolk, 67-66. They were without senior starting center Logan Liberty, due to a blood clot diagnosed about a week earlier. “I noticed it in practice and immediately went to the hospital,” said Liberty. “That night I was diagnosed with [a blood clot] and at that moment the doctor told me I was six to nine months from doing any physical activity.”
Liberty realized it was not a dream when head coach Aaron Galletta, and Head Athletic Trainer Chris Noyes came to the hospital and told him his season was over. He was sidelined for a week, and missed two games. But according to Liberty, he was put on medication instantly and made an extremely quick recovery, returning to the court just three days after Senior Day to help defeat Suffolk in the GNAC quarterfinals.
“For somebody to tell you that your career is over, then the next two games your team loses and then coming back playing against the [same] team and beating them by 14 puts it all in perspective,” said Liberty.
The 6’8” senior proved to be a deciding factor in the game as he finished with 11 points and 17 rebounds. Senior guard RJ O’Brien has played and roomed with Liberty all four years, so senior day felt a little odd. “It was a weird feeling not having him out there,” said O’Brien. “We’ve grown to be best friends and know each other’s tendencies on the court but once he came back we played like we had all season.”
“Before the game it’s all smiles,” said senior forward Pat Marchand “It’s the reason why you stay close to home, so you can play and have your parents come see you.”
The men’s team fell just short of winning the GNAC tournament and securing a bid to the NCAA tournament. The Lasers finished with a 18-9 (14-4 in GNAC) record, losing to Albertus Magnus in the conference semifinal, a team they beat twice during regular season play.