NORTH EASTHAM – It doesn’t matter whether the team is loaded with upperclassmen or comprised of inexperienced youngsters, there are certain responsibilities that come with playing for the Nauset girls basketball program.
One of those responsibilities is being a good teammate and a good opponent, even after losses or during other moments of adversity.
“This is really going to sound corny, but if you’re going to lose, you might as well lose with dignity and class,” Nauset girls basketball coach John Piemontese said. “We try and do that. We’ve got the greatest group of kids and they give us everything they’ve got, and so it really shows that they try as hard as they can try and we get the most of them that we can.”
Piemontese and the Warriors were presented with the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials Board 152’s Sportsmanship Award for the 2020-2021 season during a pregame ceremony before their home game against Monomoy on Dec. 28 in North Eastham.
The award is not only for Nauset’s varsity team but the entire girls basketball program.
“It’s a really nice honor,” Piemontese said. “It’s for the whole program top to bottom.”
“We have about 75 officials that work games on Cape Cod on our board that I sent the information to, and everybody votes at the end of the season for the schools they think demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship,” explained Max McCarthy, who serves as the Board 152 IAABO Sportsmanship Chairman and presented the award to Nauset’s co-captains, Lexi Yelle and Lili Hay, both of whom sat out the Warriors’ 47-44 overtime loss to the visiting Sharks.
McCarthy presented the boys award to the Sandwich boys basketball team the previous week. He said the matchup between Nauset and Monomoy was especially fitting because both teams are among the Cape’s best when it comes to demonstrating good sportsmanship.
“This is great because Monomoy won the award — for both boys and girls — in the last three or four years,” McCarthy said. “It’s great to see two schools that are concerned about sportsmanship and a lot of other things, too.”
McCarthy was also apologetic that the award ceremony had to take place this year rather than last year, when strict COVID-19 protocols limited capacity at games.
Although the bulk of last year’s Nauset team was seniors who graduated and moved on from the school, sophomore Jordyn Streitmatter, who is one of the few returning players, said it felt good to be recognized for the way the program carries itself.
“We did a lot of good sportsmanship and knowing that we got that award just means a lot,” Streitmatter said. “It helps boost our confidence in being good sports and it’s a good way to show that we’re a team. A lot of people are going to see that.”
Nauset’s unity was on full display in the loss to Monomoy. Even though the Warriors fell to 1-5 for the season, Piemontese was thrilled with his players’ work ethic.
“I tell them all the time that the one thing I can never fault them for is their heart,” the coach said. “They just play with so much heart. It’s to the point now where my assistant coach Kelsey Lotti said, ‘If they played with the intensity they had in the last five minutes in the first five minutes, it’s a blowout.’”
Piemontese was especially happy to see his players’ emotions on full display. After trailing 23-16 at halftime, the Warriors chipped away at their deficit before eventually sending the game into overtime tied at 41 after a late surge in the fourth quarter.
As the comeback grew closer to being complete, Nauset’s emotions intensified with each basket. Streitmatter and her teammates fed off the crowd, which pumped energy into the gymnasium with each trip up the floor.
“That’s the most emotion we’ve ever seen — them jumping up and down after making a couple free throws — so it was really good to see that because they are all so young, they haven’t experienced stuff like this,” Piemontese said. “The crowd definitely made us play harder,” said Streitmatter, a Brewster resident who scored a team-high 14 points alongside Zoey McCarthy, another sophomore from Brewster. McCarthy is among the newcomers on this year’s team, which doesn’t have a single senior on the roster.
Even though the team has experienced some growing pains with so many underclassmen in the lineup, Zoey McCarthy said the team is adjusting and coming together with each practice and game.
“We don’t have any seniors, so that’s been kind of hard,” she said. “But I think we’re learning how to play together. All of our starters tonight were sophomores. It’s a little tough working all that out but I think we’re getting better and trying to figure it out."
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BradJoyal