Belles continue upward trend, appear in second-consecutive conference tournament
Patrick Gallagher | Friday, May 15, 2020
This past season marked the continuation of increased success for the Saint Mary’s basketball program. Four seasons ago, the College only managed to win one game all year; however, the team has been on a trajectory of constant improvement each year since.
For the second year in a row, Saint Mary’s (10-16, 7-9 MIAA) earned a berth in the Conference Tournament, while also managing to maintain a .500 record at home this season. The team also provided a consistent offensive output, scoring about 55 points per game and posting a 70% clip from the free-throw line.
Head coach Melissa Makielski cited the Belles’ strong work ethic and adaptability as the key to their improved performance.
“I am proud of this team for sticking together and continuing to work hard every day in practice,” Makielski said. “We had a lot of newcomers that joined us this year who got valuable playing time. We also dealt with our fair share of injuries this season, but the team never made excuses for our performance. They just went back to practice determined to get better. I’m looking forward to the team using the experience they gained from this season as we head into next year. We had two freshmen starters and two other freshman reserves. They have improved a lot and now know what it takes in the off-season to be successful.”
While the College’s youthful roster promises a bright future, the Belle’s present is marked by some very talented players with more experience. The team is led by star junior forward Giavanna Paradiso. She averaged a team-high 16 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Senior wing Jade Mosier and sophomore wing Bella Dugas balanced out the offensive attack adding about 10 and eight points a night, respectively.
When asked about her best memories in her time with the Belles, Makielski reflected upon this senior class’ legacy.
“This senior class will always have a special place in my heart because I became the head coach four years ago,” Makielski said. “[Senior guards] Olivia Lathers and Delaney Rohlman have been with me every step of the way as we have tried to rebuild the program.”
She also singled out the 2018-19 season as remarkable in her tenure.
“I think my biggest highlight over the past four years is from the 2018-19 season,” she said. “It was the first year that we qualified for the conference tournament. We went on the road as the 6th-seed and played Albion, who had already beaten us twice during the regular season. We gave our best performance of the season and knocked them off, which was the school’s first conference tournament road game victory.”
The Belles will look to maintain their upward progression and continue building a winning culture within the program.