The 2009-2010 Peddie girls’ basketball team enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in the program’s history, posting a 25-2 record. Under the tutelage of Naismith National High School Coach of the Year, Sean Casey, and assistant Eric “Gus” Gustavson, the Falcons completed their storybook campaign by winning the coveted ESPN Rise National High School Championship.
Broadcast nationally on ESPN2, the girls controlled Oak Hill Academy (Va.), 60-44, to hoist the national championship trophy. Nekole Jackson ’10 (Bryant) saved one of her best performances for the final, where she poured in 21 points on the way to being named the ESPN Player of the Game. Multi-tasker Bridgette McKnight ’10 (UNH) made the highlight reel when she tossed in a no-look over-the-shoulder layup that sailed high above the glass before hitting nothing but net.
In the semifinal matchup, Peddie outclassed the Florida Class 6A state champion Lake Mary, 56-32, with Haley Peters ’10 (Duke) and Alex Smith ’10 (Holy Cross) combining for 32 points.
The team’s depth proved to be one of the Falcons’ strongest assets. Madison Skerritt ’13, Kelly Bailey ’12, Claire Heauptle ’11, Tatham Dilks ’11, Pallavi Juneja ’11, Jeannie Goodell ’10 and Ashlynn Soellner ’10 all brought energy to the floor throughout the season.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who can play,” said Casey, Hall of Fame Class of 2016. “And it’s icing on the cake to get two more games with this special group.”
A regular member of the ESPN RISE Fab 50, the Falcons’ only losses were to teams ranked higher. The girls had their 24-game winning streak snapped as Spring Valley (S.C.) edged the Falcons 51-50 on a free throw with 0.7 seconds left in the semifinals of the Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational at Myrtle Beach. In the marquee matchup of the 15th annual Prime Events Girls Shootout, the Falcons came up short against Neptune High School, 58-51.
Peters averaged 19.8 points per game and finished second on the all-time scoring list with 1,521 points. During her extraordinary senior year, Peters garnered NJ Gatorade Player of the Year, second team Parade All-American and joined an exclusive club as the school’s third McDonald’s High School All American.
The Falcons defeated archrival Germantown Academy, 79-60, as Karima Gabriel ’11 (Cal State Fullerton) controlled the paint with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
At the Breezy Bishop Showcase in Baltimore, the Falcons handled powerhouses Bishop McNamara (57-48) and Seton Keough (64-52).
The girls also captured titles in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League and NJSIAA Prep A tournaments against a formidable Blair squad. By the numbers, the Falcons’ average margin of victory was 30 points.
Resiliency, grit and the determination to succeed as student-athletes, the 2009-2010 girls’ basketball team set a new standard of excellence.