By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
The Ludlow Lions Girls team hosted the Pioneers from Pathfinder on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Today’s 2 PM start makes this game the earliest contest FP SPORTS covered this season 😳.
(Ludlow team huddle)
(Pathfinder team huddle)
If you haven’t read the 2 previous articles that have featured Pathfinder and Ludlow, Pathfinder did not have a home gym this season. I wrongly thought that the school didn’t have a gym. Pathfinder does have a gym but the gym is being used by the Town of Palmer for COVID-19 purposes. Both Pathfinder teams have had to practice outside.
FP SPORTS commends the Pathfinder basketball program for persevering through all the adversity they faced this season.
As for the actual game, 😬.
This afternoon’s matchup was close for about 3 minutes in the first quarter. Pathfinder’s Angelina Morassi did all she could to keep her team in the game. She hit 3, deep 2-point jump shots in the 1st.
(Julia Brillo plays defense)
Ludlow Senior Kali Grimes and Sophomore Mikala Stefanelli led the Lions in the 1st quarter. Grimes scored 7 and Stefanelli scored 5 points in the 1st.
The remaining 29 minutes of the game saw either Ludlow getting steals and getting out in transition or getting a rebound and getting out in transition. Even when the Lions had to run their half-court offense, most notably “Ohio!”, they got multiple shots at the basket off of offensive rebounds.
(Arayah Remillard goes in for a layup)
One interesting thing about this game was the Ludlow substitution pattern. Most coaches sub-in one or two players at a time. Ludlow HC Tim Brillo subbed in 5-person shifts. Towards the end of the game, HC Brillo subbed 1 or 2 players, but the mass substitutions were a refreshing innovation rarely seen here in Western Mass.
(Substitutions for Ludlow)
(Five subs wait to get in the game)
Pathfinder didn’t have the same resources. They dressed 8 girls today. Some girls at Pathfinder decided not to play this season.
Two Ludlow’s Seniors, Grimes and Arayah Remillard, led the Lions tonight. Remillard is a good PG, with a strong voice on the court. She is fast and can dribble the ball well. She also controls the pace of the game when she is out there. Grimes is a good shooter and drives to the basket effectively.
(Kali Grimes goes up for two)
Two players to look for next season on Ludlow are Mikala Stefanelli and fellow Sophomore Elise Lavell. Stefanelli is a good shooter. She hit three 3s on Saturday 🔥. Lavell has some height and could be a really good wing/post player for the Lions. She can finish around the rim and has a nice touch on her FT. She didn’t shoot many jump-shots in Saturday’s game.
The substitution waves and the lack of practice equaled an overmatched Pathfinder. Ludlow won 58-25.
(Arayah Remillard defends Stephanie Kozlik)
Scorers for Ludlow:
Mikala Stefanelli - 13 points
Kali Grimes - 12 points
Arayah Remillard - 11 points
Elise Lavell - 7 points
Olivia Crespo - 4 points
Kaylee Lyman - 3 points
Jacinda Hewes, Sara Costa, Danielle Smith & Julia Brillo - 2 points each [Brillo also had 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals]
(Arayah Remillard running the Ludlow offense)
Scorers for Pathfinder:
Cordelia Hageman - 10 points
Angelina Morassi - 6 points
Allyson Dube - 4 points
Stephanie Kozlik - 3 points
Brianna Beynor - 2 points
(Angelina Morassi & Cordelia Hageman)
After the game I spoke with Pathfinder HC Kevin Aldrich, Ludlow HC Tim Brillo and Ludlow Seniors Julia Brillo and Arayah Remillard.
🔵 Pathfinder HC Kevin Aldrich🟡
Q: How did not having a home gym effect your team this year?
A: “There’s a quote by Jim Boeheim a couple of weeks ago...its a fundamental thing, you can’t play basketball if you don’t practice and that’s what we were stuck with this season. We did not have a single full-court practice. These kids were outside; they had to practice on an outside court, half-covered in snow, in the middle of New England winter. It was very difficult. I had a young team, it was gonna be a rebuild anyways. Usually we have enough players to run a JV and Varsity but this was it. We had 8 girls come out. A few Varsity starters opted out of the season, which just added to the problem”.
(Pathfinder timeout huddle)
Q: How did you deal with Ludlow’s substitution waves today?
A: “They have great athletes, tremendous athletes, very well conditioned and they run those waves really well. They ran us out right away, they ran us out of the building. Some of that is conditioning and numbers alone and they have some nice depth. They don’t really fall off much 1-10. They have a nice quality team over there".
Q: How do you feel about the games you played this year?
A: “I definitely think we progressed as we went along. We are playing that geographic bubble, so playing Palmer, Ware, playing Ludlow, that’s something that maybe we would pick up one independent game against them and they made up the whole season this year. So that was difficult but there was definitely improvement. We came here Thursday night and only scored 3 baskets, we scored 11 points all game. We made 4 baskets in the 1st quarter tonight”.
Q: What are you expecting for next season, especially if you have your gym back?
A: “I think this was very beneficial for the girls. There’s not a single Senior on our team. So playing these quality opponents definitely should help out for next year. And assuming that COVID is not an issue, we’ll get some of our key girls back that we were missing this year. We should be alright, especially in the Tri-County”.
🔴Ludlow Seniors Arayah Remillard and Julia Brillo⚪️
Q: How did you feel out there today?
AR: “It was really emotional; last game ever, you know?”.
(Arayah Remillard going to the FT-line after making a layup and getting fouled)
JB: “It was really emotional but I think we played really good”.
(In background, HC Brillo embracing his daughter Julia)
Q: How have your 4 years been in the basketball program?
AR: “Room for a lot of improvement but each year we make really huge strides and its noticeable and awesome to see and be a part of”.
JB: “We are really hard-working and we show up to practice and work as hard as possible to be better”.
Q: What are your plans after high school?
AR: “I’m going to a 4-year school for Engineering. I don’t know if I’ll be playing too much basketball but maybe I’ll pick it up once and awhile”.
JB: “I plan to go to Springfield College or Endicott College to be a Physical Therapist”.
🔴Ludlow HC [and Athletic Director] Tim Brillo⚪️
(HC/AD Tim Brillo giving players so coaching on the bench)
Q: Where is your unique substitution pattern from?
A: “It’s the Grinnell [College] system. Westfield State has been running it...and I thought it fit our girls fairly well”.
Q: How did you garner so much spirit and enthusiasm around your program?
A: “I think its the kids we have. They want each other to be successful and that’s what we try to preach. It comes from our Senior leadership, knowing that supporting one another is important”.
Q: Can tell us about Elise Lavell and what you expect from her next season?
A: “I expect a lot more of what we saw today. She is willing to work; she is a kid that will come early or stay late at practice to make herself a better player. I’m looking forward to two more years with her”.
Q: I want you to take off your HC & AD 🧢 🧢. It’s your daughter’s last game today, how do you feel?
A: “There were a lot of tears at the end. I’m thrilled to death that she was able to have a Senior season, along with this group of kids. They are real special to me, they all are not just my daughter but they all are. I’ve watched them grow up since they were...nine, whatever it may be, 4th grade we were coaching ‘em. I’m just real happy they had the opportunity to play and I’m thrilled that she [daughter, Julia] had that opportunity too”.
Thank you to AD/HC Brillo, Boys HC Zimmer, all the players and everyone who works with the Athletic program at Ludlow HS.
This season was unlike any other. Thank you to anyone who has read my writings (I need to hire an editor 😅), shared my work on social media or by word-of-mouth. I can't be successful without people like you, so, thank you!
I’m not stopping 🪓.