WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The Peekskill High School girls basketball team completed a stunning run through the Section 1 Class A playoffs with a 55-48 win over Albertus Magnus on Sunday at the Westchester County Center.
The 11th-seeded Red Devils, who started the season 1-7, knocked off the fourth-seeded Falcons to capture the school’s second section title in three years. Peekskill will face the Section 9 Class A champion on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at Mount St. Mary’s College.
Head coach Rodney Headley Jr. was almost in disbelief of his team’s accomplishment as he stood on the court after the win.
“We never really imagined (we’d be here),” Headley Jr. said. “Our goal at the beginning of the year was to come up and win at least one round. That was our goal because we were underachievers last year. We had a lot of talent but got upset in the first round. So just to have them want to better themselves, this is what we did. They never quit. Never quit.”
Peekskill generally stayed out in front of Albertus Magnus throughout the game but the Falcons always managed to stay in it. Even in the final minutes, the Red Devils missed some free throws and the Falcons stayed within two scores and refused to go away quietly.
Tournament MVP Lanay Rodney, a freshman, scored all 18 of her points in the second half and made some clutch free throws at the end to put the game away.
The Red Devils’ win was all the more impressive considering the youth of the team. Peekskill does not have a single senior on the roster, which includes four juniors, three sophomores, three freshmen and an eighth-grader.
That eighth-grader, Nyrie Holliman, chipped in 14 points in the win.
“We just had to keep believing,” Rodney said. “We know we’re a young team. We just had to keep playing.”
Headley Jr. wore a red shirt with the words “Started from the bottom, now we’re here” in white letters across the back in reference to the popular rap song “Started From The Bottom” by Drake. The whole team sang the song in unison on the bench after the game while tears flowed on the Falcons’ bench just a few feet away.
After the 1-7 start and the improbable run to the title, those lyrics could not have rung more true.
The 1-7 start is "when we were mixing up the lineup. Nobody knew their true identity. It was a brand new squad, only three or four returners,” Headley Jr. said. “So we just were finding ourselves and now that we know who we are identity-wise on the court and everybody knows their role, who knows how far we could go?”
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