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girls basketball

True grit

TERESA  DiTOMMASO: With hustle and determination, Conant’s do-it-all  senior on quest  to lead team  to state title

  • The Conant girls basketball team defeated Bishop Brady 50-40 on Friday, Jan. 11, 2012.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team defeated Bishop Brady 50-40 on Friday, Jan. 11, 2012.


    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • The Conant girls basketball team defeated Bishop Brady 50-40 on Friday, Jan. 11, 2012.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

    The Conant girls basketball team defeated Bishop Brady 50-40 on Friday, Jan. 11, 2012.


    (Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

  • DiTommaso's role has changed from last year's leading scorer to more of a little things type of player.

    DiTommaso's role has changed from last year's leading scorer to more of a little things type of player.

  • DiTommaso hopes to get one more chance at a state championship this year and a add a second title to her resume.

    DiTommaso hopes to get one more chance at a state championship this year and a add a second title to her resume.

  • The Conant girls basketball team defeated Bishop Brady 50-40 on Friday, Jan. 11, 2012.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant girls basketball team defeated Bishop Brady 50-40 on Friday, Jan. 11, 2012.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • DiTommaso's role has changed from last year's leading scorer to more of a little things type of player.
  • DiTommaso hopes to get one more chance at a state championship this year and a add a second title to her resume.

When Conant senior Teresa DiTommaso stepped onto the floor prior to last Tuesday’s game with Mascenic night, it was a little surreal.

For three years, she has seen members of each class receive flowers on Senior Night, but DiTommaso never really thought about the tradition all that much until it was her turn. It doesn’t seem that long ago to her that her older sister, Maria, was going through the final home game ceremony, but that was when DiTommaso was in eighth grade.

It usually marks the beginning of the end of a high school player’s career, yet DiTommaso feels her team has a lot of basketball left to play in the coming weeks.

“It’s a time to look back and see how much you’ve achieved and accomplished,” said DiTommaso. “But I know we still have some games left. We just have to stay focused, play our game and we’ll be perfectly fine.”

The Orioles are enjoying one of their best regular seasons in a few years and one that DiTommaso would love to see end just like her freshman campaign did —with a state championship. Entering Friday’s season finale at Fall Mountain, Conant was 16-1 and a victory over the Wildcats would mean the top seed for the Division III tournament.

“Obviously winning the state championship is the ultimate goal,” said DiTommaso.

But having been to a pair of championship games in her first two years at Conant, winning one as a freshman, DiTommaso knows that come Feb. 21 — the date of the preliminary round — records don’t mean anything. She understands what it takes to make a title run and it is her job to help make sure this year’s group is focused and ready to win four straight elimination games.

As one of two seniors and one of three captains, DiTommaso takes her leadership role very serious, especially since the Orioles have just eight players, including two freshmen and three sophomores.

“Teresa’s just one of those kids you want on your team,” said Conant coach Nick Hill. “With her hustle, her mentality and her work ethic, she’s always trying to improve herself.

This year, however, has not been easy. In addition to her leadership role increasing, DiTommaso had to learn how to play the game in a different way. After suffering a concussion and broken nose while playing goalie for the Conant girls varsity soccer team, she was only allowed to play this season with the use of a mask.

The first couple weeks were the most difficult. DiTommaso described it as a ‘sweat box’ and she couldn’t see the ball when she was dribbling. She had a hard time seeing defenders coming from the side. It took her out of her game at first.

“I was a little tentative at first,” said DiTommaso. “You just have to get used to it. It was definitely frustrating, but you have to embrace it.”

But over time, she got used to it. Her mom, Deb, shaved down parts of it to help her vision and the training staff at Franklin Pierce University provided a thinner foam so the mask could rest closer to her face. Now DiTommaso feels she is playing like her self again. And she is not the only one who noticed.

“I do think it took her some getting used to it and she is finally coming back into her own,” said Hill.

She made an immediate impact on the team as a freshman, adding another presence down low for the state champion Orioles. DiTommaso almost got her second title in as many years, but Conant fell to Campbell in the finals —the same team they defeated the year before.

Each year has been a little different for DiTommaso. And now, as a senior leader, she is in the role that suits her best.

“You have to embrace it because it’s what is best for the team,” said DiTommaso. “You just have to go out there and leave everything on that court.”

She is the kind of captain any coach would want and Hill is thankful to have.

“She’s like my leader on the floor,” said Hill. “And she’s going to do whatever it takes to help our team win.”

With any luck, DiTommaso’s career will end in the same fashion as Maria’s did — with Conant’s sixth girls basketball championship. Both won titles as a freshman, the younger DiTommaso as a starter, and she would love match her sister and put an end to all discussions about who has more titles.

“We always have the competition. She’s got two and I’m going to try my darnedest to get my second,” said DiTommaso.

But it isn’t about luck for DiTommaso. She knows how hard her team works and that is what will hopefully allow them to play well into March.

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