The Lady Dragons know that victory is sweetest after experiencing the taste of defeat.
Following the humbling 51-45 loss to Lakeland in the New York State Class-A semi-finals game that ousted them from the postseason last year, no one would have been surprised if Division went into rebuilding mode coming into the current season.
Instead, the squad bounced back from the set-back by rattling off six straight dominating wins to open their 2010-11 campaign, with a 22 point average margin of victory during the streak.
Division's unblemished record can be attributed to disciplined, fundamentals-based basketball instituted by head coach Steve Kissane. He has a dynamic and well-balanced starting rotation that knows how to play to their individual strengths.
Setting the table for the offense has been the talented duo of senior point guards: Taylor Malings and Julie Ballantyne.
Malings' has a pass-first mentality and averages six assists per game, which means big numbers for the sharp-shooters on the squad. She is the perfect fit for Kissane's up-tempo style because of her ability to run the floor and slice through defenses.
Ballantyne is a dangerous scorer with three-point range and can hit the midrange jumper. Often the target of Malings' crisp passes, she averages 12 points per game and draws defensive attention at the top of the key.
The Lady Dragons have a center-by-committee approach that includes Janelle Marxhausen and Kristen Stuart.
Marxhausen is a long-armed defender who can block shots and crowd the paint. At 6'0", she is often the tallest girl on the court and uses her height advantage to guard the rim. Stuart infuses the lineup with fresh energy and is renowned for her ability to secure offensive rebounds. The team counts on her to add punch to the backcourt and command double-teams.
The starting five is rounded out by the forward-guard combo of Nicolette McCreary and Christina Rea.
McCreary is the marquee player on the team and has made the transformation from a young, raw talent to a smart, savvy veteran. Opposing guards have trouble keeping her from penetrating to the basket because she is a slasher in the paint.
Rea is a streaky shooter that loves to take the big shot in crunch-time and can defend the post or perimeter.
The path back to the postseason will likely be determined by the home-and-home series taking place late in the season against the undefeated Wantagh Warriors.
It is shaping up to be a magical season that could end with the Lady Dragons hoisting the state championship trophy once and for all.
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