Girls basketball: Seniors help RFA extend win streak to 12 games
ROME — Led by a talented and experienced group of five seniors, the Rome Free Academy girls basketball team is playing with confidence.
That’s a positive for the Black Knights as the regular-season winds down and the postseason looms.
An overall strong effort while overwhelming a young Whitesboro squad Friday extends RFA’s stretch of strong play.
RFA grabbed an early lead Friday and never looked back in earning an 83-31 victory over visiting Whitesboro in a Tri-Valley League Colonial Division game when the seniors were honored before the game.
RFA, ranked No. 22 in the latest New York State Sportswriters Association poll, has won 12 consecutive games since three straight losses toward the end of December. The Knights could be a tough team to handle in Class AA. The team lost in the Section III semifinals last year.
“We try to treat every game the same,” RFA coach Al Bevilacqua, whose team is 15-3 overall and also had a lopsided win over Whitesboro earlier in January. “We’re not so much looking at who our opponent is but controlling how we play. That was our focus.”
Friday was a strong team effort for RFA as the starters played into the second half despite the game well in hand after jumping out to a 16-0 lead.
According to the Bevilacqua, the Knights forced 17 turnovers in the first half – including on the first possession of the game – and the team had a 16-0 point lead before Whitesboro’s first basketball with 1:15 remaining. RFA led 22-2 after one quarter and held a 42-12 advantage at the half. RFA led by 50 after three quarters.
“We just hope to keep getting better and progressing,” said Amya McLeod, the NCAA Division I Youngstown State commit who is a captain along with Alysa Jackson and Mia Mirabelli. “These wins do help because we know what we need to work on other than just running it in practice.”
McLeod – averaging just over 24 points per game – led all scorers with 27 points and has 1,676 career points. Jackson added 16 and Mirabelli added 12. Fellow senior starters Emma Wright (two points) and Raelyn Dole (six points) also contributed.
“It has been a great group of seniors,” Bevilacqua said. “I don’t think in my six years, I’ve had five starting seniors. … They play well together. They have the experience.”
McLeod said the group has played together “for years,” which is beneficial.
“It is really just trusting in each other,” McLeod said. “It is about leading each other, too. We do have some younger kids on the team, so it is really about setting the tone for them next year. I believe we’re doing that. It is finishing our last season together and leaving it all on the court. We have nothing to lose at this point.”
RFA is 5-0 in the Colonial – and 10-0 in the league – and trying to earn the program's first TVL lead since 2015.
RFA has two regular-season games remaining with contests Monday against visiting VVS and Tuesday against Colonial foe in host New Hartford. Both games are set for 7 p.m. starts.
“If we play like we did (Friday), I think we can beat anyone,” Bevilacqua said.
Abby Collea led with eight points for Whitesboro (2-15 overall), which is scheduled to take on Proctor in two of the last three regular-season games. The teams are set to meet at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Utica and 7 p.m. Tuesday at Whitesboro. The team is scheduled to play at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Camden.
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