ELMSFORD, N.Y. — After being in arm's reach of a state championship last year, the Alexander Hamilton Red Raiders are eyeing the prize once again this season.
The girls varsity basketball team, having clinched the 2012 section championship, led Coleman Catholic by eight points at halftime during last year's state regional semifinals. Unfortunately, the win slipped away.
Hamilton coach Benjamin Carter doesn't intend to let that happen this year.
"I think they've learned from their mistakes," Carter said, adding that conditioning was the problem in the long run. "But their conditioning has caught up to them. I feel pretty good about this season."
The team is full of experience with a powerful all-senior starting five, each member of which Carter says brings a unique skill to the team. Maia Hood, senior guard and forward, will return for her last season as one of the team's key players, averaging 23 points per game last season.
"We're ready for any challenge," Hood said. "I've improved my ball handling and conditioning, which will help in the season."
Hood will join seniors Kali Gill, Jasmine Robinson, Tiffany Corselli and Maiya Scott in the starting lineup. Corselli brings "bona fide scoring" as a point guard, Carter said, while Robinson will lead the team with her defensive stability.
Games to look out for this season will be tough contenders Ossining High School and Horace Greeley High School, Carter said. The Red Raiders will begin their season next weekend at the Elmsford Classic, starting off with Byram Hills at 7.pm. Friday.
It will be Hamilton's first matchup against Byram Hills, but Carter has no doubt that the girls are ready. He joked that they like to make references to "Coach Carter," the classic movie about a no-nonsense basketball coach.
"We're similar in ways. Their bodies are being pushed, their minds are being pushed. They're pushed to excel," he said. "We just have to stay on course and let our work speak for itself."