The Phoenix Continue to Make a Playoff Push Despite Recent Struggles
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With a record of 4-1, the Stuyvesant girls’ basketball team, the Phoenix, stood on top of the Manhattan A South Division and seemed to be in a prime position to control the division for the remainder of the season. In hopes to further solidify their first-place standing, the Phoenix looked to secure their fifth win against Seward Park Campus.
Their short-staffed roster of only five players gave the Lady Bears of Seward Park a large disadvantage from the get-go, and it only got worse from there. The first quarter concluded with a score of 14-0; the Phoenix had completely shut out the Lady Bears. By the end of the game, the final score was 35-5, the greatest margin of Phoenix victory this season.
The Phoenix faced division rival Washington Irving’s Lady Bulldogs in its next game. The team went in confident, as the Phoenix had previously defeated the Bulldogs 48-40 in its season opener. In the second match-up, the Phoenix fought hard, but ultimately fell 51-45. Stuyvesant was down nine points at halftime, but managed to come back in the third quarter, trailing Washington Irving by 37-35. Sophomore Alison Chan’s impressive rebounding and offense was critical to Stuyvesant’s effort. However, the Phoenix were unable to overcome the Lady Bulldogs, and fell to a record of 5-2 for the season.
Then, Stuyvesant went on to face School of the Future, looking to regain some momentum and retain their first place position. During a tough first quarter, the Phoenix only managed to score one point from a singular free throw, while their opponents, the Bulldogs, took an early six-point lead. In the next quarter, Stuyvesant began to close the gap, narrowing the Bulldogs’ lead to just three points. While the Phoenix were able to slightly bridge the gap, School of the Future pushed ahead and gained a large lead that they maintained until the end of the game, with the final score being 30-16.
Following the pair of losses, the Phoenix once again faced Baruch High School’s Blue Devils, who they had also narrowly defeated earlier in the season. All was looking well for the Phoenix, who had a two-point lead entering the fourth quarter. Sophomore Paige Wolfing had an amazing game, scoring 16 points and 21 rebounds. But the Blue Devils managed to come back by scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter, thus defeating Stuyvesant by the narrow margin of 35-31.
The Stuyvesant Phoenix suffered three straight losses, falling to a record of 5-4. If there were any means of remaining competitive in the division, the players would have to win at home against Lab Museum United. The Phoenix surged out of the gates strong and took a commanding 17-7 lead by the end of the first quarter. While the Lady Gators fought hard to come back by putting up 12 points in the final quarter, their efforts were not enough, and the Phoenix held on to win the game by a score of 32-29. Wolfing was a critical player for Stuyvesant’s success that day, as she put up a team-high of 13 points and an impressive 21 rebounds.
Though the Phoenix suffered three losses and dropped to third place in the division, their performance thus far shows room for great improvement. “We lost those four games by only a few points each, showing that we have the potential to win the rest of our games this season,” senior and co-captain Eve Wening said. “If we play with the same intensity that we did yesterday in the remaining games and into playoffs, then we can easily perform very well.” She also believes that the team can get a good spot in the playoffs and make it past the first round.
Despite the team’s previous struggles, the Phoenix, armed with a determined and young core, still have hope for the future, as there are several pivotal games left. The Phoenix have a two-game “road trip” to conclude their season, facing Bayard Rustin and Seward Park Campus. Should the Phoenix round out their season with two final wins, they would bring their record to a solid 8-4, and enter the playoffs with a two-game win streak behind them. This momentum, combined with confidence in their ability, will be pivotal for the future of the Phoenix as they hope to keep their season going strong.