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John Jay Honors Classmate with Inspiring Victory Over Fox Lane

Great Win

By Rich MonettiPublished 2 months ago 5 min read

On Saturday January 13, John Jay was looking for their third straight win, and Fox Lane stood in the way at the high school. Even so, there was more on the minds of the community and the team than basketball. Brooke D’Aleo is battling cancer, and behind the PA at the scorer’s Marc McAlley gave voice to the overall sentiment. “You’re not alone, stay strong,” the teacher’s words echoed. Of course, win or lose, nothing would change. But just the same, the Wolves were definitely driven and really put their teeth into honoring their classmate.

“It means a lot to get a win for her,” said Jane Brennan after the 49-38 victory.

After Cara Drapala got the games first three points on a baseline drive, Sela Halaifonua gave the Foxes a preview. She hit two consecutive from downtown and tallied the first of her game high 29 points.

The guard wasn’t put off either when Drapala answered with another layup. Halaifonua got ahead of the field for a fast break layup and played give and go with Brennan for a 10-5 lead at 1:54 of the first.That left it to Brennan to close the quarter by going solo. Two hard drives put her on the line twice and opened a 12-5 lead.

There the score stayed until Lily Moore hit a three with 4:45 remaining in the half. So the alarm sounded, the Wolves got back to work, and Brooke Habinowski had both her feet and her head up to answer the bell

Halaifonua’s backcourt pass sailing a little high, Habinowski leapt on the sideline to secure the ball and put Halaifonua in position to make up for her mistake. Caught in stride by Habinowski, the junior drove to the hoop and Jay was up by five.

No surprise, Halaifonua was in on the next bucket too. She ripped down the defensive rebound, took off up court and found Natalie Ellrodt on the baseline. Not alone for long, the defense closed the path, but Ellrodt notched a reverse layup.

Now 16-9 at 4:05, Fox Lane did a little damage. Drapala burst through the paint for two, and Morgan Clinton sank one from the line.

A four point game, Halaifonua again threw cold water on the Fox Lane spark. Off glass for three at 1:23, no apologies were forthcoming, and Nora Dooley wasn’t waiting for one anyway. She muscled the offensive rebound and closed the quarter scoring at 19-15 with the put back and free throw.

The teams retreating to the locker room, Ryan Valdes of the boys basketball team got the chance to talk about the warmup jerseys he designed for the day. “I hope Brooke realizes the entire community is standing behind her, and this helps give her whatever encouragement she needs to get through,” said the guard.

Either way, Valdes is also just returning the favor. Friends since Kindergarten,” he said. “Brooke has always been one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.”

No argument, the teams returned, and Riley New began the scoring. She drove straight down the paint, and only two points separated the teams.

Of course, Halaifonua was still in the building. First she got the defensive rebound, and the Wolves in possession, Ellrodt took the open three for a 22-17 lead at 6:16.

Then the high scorer nearly broke the bleachers. Seemingly trapped in the corner, Halaifonua did a little two step between the shocked defenders, took the lane, and when the layup went down, the fan reaction shook the structure.

Still, Fox Lane kept coming. Riley New got the old school three point play, and Drapala went above the arc for hers at 3:52.

26-23, the Wolves didn’t relent and kept the Foxes chasing. Jordan Kauftheil made a perfect bounce pass for Ellrodt’s layup, and then Coach Matt Gallagher got hit with some Deja Vu. “They remind me of Anna (Brennan) and Mia (Puccio),” he said of the ESP between Jane Brennan and Halaifonua

Another give and go play netted for Brennan, and a moment later, Halaifonua picked Brennan out of a crowd on the inbound. All the way to the hoop from half court, the basket still had the game well within reach at 32-26.

The Foxes kept coming too. Clinton and Riley New each got to the line on drives, and the game stood 32-30 with 7:14 left in the game.

Timely hooping in need, Halaifonua answered the call. From almost the same spot above the key, she calmly drilled two triples, and the clutch play didn’t not have Gallagher switching gears. “She’s been ready for this for a couple of years,” the coach beamed the way Halaifonua has stepped up.

An eight point game, a Fox Lane timeout didn’t chill the momentum. Brennan this time, waiting out the arc, the moment only elevated, and on the drop, the house came down.

The curtain call was next, and no surprise, top billing went to Brennan and Halaifonua. Brennan grabbing the defensive rebound, she launched a perfect pass just above the defense, and into the hands of Halaifonua. One step and the layup opened up a thirteen point lead with 4:35 left in the game. “They have such chemistry,” Gallagher reiterated.

The lead would grow to 15 on a Habinowski fast break, and Halaifonua in on the play again, she brought the victory back to what matters. “It’s really powerful. Everyone is rooting for Brooke to get stronger and better,” she concluded. “So the win definitely means a lot.”


About the Creator

Rich Monetti

I am, I write.

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