Conard Basketball: Anticipations for the New Season
By: Kate Maglio & Danielle DiGiacomo
With the winter sports season having commenced at last, we felt it would be fitting to interview both the boys basketball team, as well as the girls team to gain insight on their anticipations for the new 2022-2023 season; and see what their projections are for their teams this year. Last year, both teams had very strong seasons. The boys held vigor all season ending with a 20-3 record; getting knocked out of the CIAC state playoffs in the semi-finals against Northwest Catholic at Enfield High. And the girls, holding their own, ending with a 12-9 record, getting knocked out of the playoffs against the Simsbury Trojans. The girls team was young, with three of their starting five having only been freshman last year.
In turn, we took the liberty of interviewing Captain Ryan Bushnell, and Jackson Morhardt, and with regards to the girls team, Captain Teagan Dipippo.
When interviewing Bushnell, we began by asking him what his role is as a captain. Bushnell explained that his responsibility is to hold everyone accountable on and off the court. Also earning the title of captain of the football team, Bushnell transfers one of the philosophies established in that program called “Inside The Shield” or ITS. This demands players to make proper decisions for the benefit of the team and take care of each other on and off the field, and for winter season: the court. Bushnell anticipates the greatest challenges for the team this season to be facing a harder schedule this year. Conard boys’ basketball is looking to avenge last year's season and make it to Mohegan for a chance at the state title. When Morhardt was asked what challenges he anticipates, he expressed how “putting in the work it takes to win” will pose a challenge alongside “keeping our stamina high.” Having come off such a successful season last year, there is pressure to fight their way back to the playoffs in attempts to advance further. This again will definitely be a challenge, but something for the boys to make sure they focus on. We then took the liberty of asking Morhardt what he believes the strengths of this team will be. Not only did he express that their bond and connection will be one, but “honestly the brotherhood” they’ve created over all, as well. There is no doubt that the boys’ basketball program is significantly bonded, which can only pose as benefits, on and off the court. Additionally, we asked Bushnell how the style of play will be different having lost/gained new players this season. He told us that since they only “had two seniors last year, it's not going to be all that different; having lost an all conference player however, can be a big loss, but we have other players to fill roles.” Despite having lost Jalen Hamblin ‘22, the aforementioned All-Conference player, Bushnell is confident in how his teammates have developed and stepped into crucial roles on the team. Although Bushnell admits to having “lost his jump shot” since freshman year, he has dominated the boards, being one of the more physical players. The boys can go far in the playoffs as long as their strong bond, hard work, and discipline is maintained on and off the court. We are excited to see the trajectory of where the boys' hard work takes them, and keep supporting them throughout the duration of their entire season!
Not only did we get a chance to acquire an understanding about the boys basketball program, but girls as well. Captain Teagan Dipippo was willing to speak with us, and provide us information about what her projections for the 22-23 season are. We started off by asking Dipippo about what she believes the girls team's strengths will be this season. She expressed how she thinks “our unity as a team is our biggest strength. We work so well together, and we have a great team chemistry. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we can build off of one another during games in order to win.” Similarly, to the boys, the girls team shares a similar bond, as many girls on the team are super close with one another. We then asked DiPippo: Which teams in your conference do you anticipate to be some of your tougher competition? To which she replied: “Simsbury is definitely one of our biggest competitors this year, because we’ve built a rivalry with them over the past few years. Our varsity team hasn’t been able to beat them since my freshman year, but I think we’re gonna be able to pull out a win in at least one of our games against them this season.” Last year, the girls season ended in the first round of playoffs against the Simsbury Trojans, so the girls will definitely be out to walk away with a win this go around.
We are excited to see what these two teams have in store for the season, and can’t wait to keep attending their games to support!