By MIKE SMITH
With a 39-36 win over cross-town rival Bronxville on Jan. 25, the Eastchester Eagles are continuing their hot play in 2014 and operating like a well-oiled machine with the Class A playoffs looming right around the corner.
At 8-6, the Eagles have been stellar over the past month, as they seem to be finding their stride under the tutelage of first-year head coach Ray Fredrick.
Fredrick, who stepped into a situation with a team that had just two senior players, said he could tell right away the Eagles squad had the talent to compete in Class A. According to the first year head coach, it was just a question of finding their rhythm.
“It didn’t take long to see what kind of team this was, I saw their passion for the game, their passion for the school and I could see the girls were eager to learn,” Franklin said. “I just think that now, they’ve come together as a team and you’re really starting to see that with everyone.”
Last week, the Eagles split a pair of games with perennial power Pelham before turning their sights on a game Broncos team on Thursday afternoon. Despite a spirited effort from Bronxville, it was Eastchester’s stingy defense–and nine points from Olivia Heffernan–that carried the day for the surging Eagles.
“Everybody buys into their roles, and Olivia has kind of taken that role as a scorer,” Fredrick said. “The girls all know what they need to do on the defensive end.”
With just four games left on the regular season schedule, the Eagles are already guaranteed a spot in the Class A playoffs, but Fredrick is hoping to see even more improvement as his team looks to close out the season on a high note.
“I look at it as four opportunities to continue to build,” he said. “We only have two seniors, but I told the other girls that they’ve been playing all season, they’re basically veterans now and they need to understand what’s at stake.”
Beyond the playoff push, Fredrick is hopeful his squad is able to take advantage of the time it has left on the hardwood.
“We’re not looking ahead, we’re taking it one game at a time,” Fredrick said. “Especially for these seniors, it’s four more games and I want them to relish this opportunity.”
Eastchester will host Bronxville on Feb. 1 in a rematch of last week’s game before closing the season with games against Hastings, Edgemont and Sleepy Hollow.