Windsor Lancers

Monday, August 29, 2011

Final Blog from France: Freshman Amber Bepko talks about this once in a lifetime opportunity

This trip to France was a once in a lifetime experience. For me to be able to come here as a freshman and be a part of the team so early made the trip that much more incredible.

We spent two days in Paris, visiting places I’ve only seen on TV. The night cruise of the city was phenomenal! Being able to see the Eiffel tower all lit up was something I will never forget.

We traveled to Toulouse were we spent the balance of our trip and played our games. We had the morning off on Saturday and went to a town called Conque. What an experience within itself. To see this village which is considered one of the prettiest villages in France was incredible. The small town of only 300 people was beautiful and welcoming to our team as we walked around and saw all the sites from up in the hills.

It was a challenging three games against some very talented European teams. It was a different style of play that took our team some getting used to. By the third game we started to gel more as a team and that was shown by a much closer outcome.

Having the chance to play with my team so early as a freshman helped me to really be a part of the team which most freshman don’t get to see until late October. To be able to play against such difficult teams made the experience that much more fun.

After our last game we had a team dinner and then a surprise party for junior Alex Hall to celebrate her 21st birthday. We had cakes from a local French bakery that were delicious. This trip to France was one I will never forget.

Update from France: Hawks Fall in Final International Game

Before returning to the United States to begin classes on Wednesday, the Hawks took the court one last time to play the Toulouse Metrepole Basket team on Sunday afternoon. This game wraps up three games total that the Hawks will have played in Rodez, France, the second international trip for Hartford under head coach Jennifer Rizzotti. Below is a recap of their final game against Toulouse, written by Cedric Quackenbush.

Hartford rallied late but fell short in a 75-66 loss to Toulouse Metrepole Basket on Sunday in the final game of their 2011 European tour in France. Toulouse is a professional team from the second division in France.

The Hawks were led by Ruthanne Doherty who scored a game high 23 points to go with seven rebounds. Freshman Amber Bepko added 17 points, 10 if which came in the first half, to go with four steals and two assists. Overall, the Hawks shot 42% from the field.

Toulouse got off to a fast start, building an 18-7 lead late in the first quarter, but Bepko pulled the Hawks within 4 points heading into the second quarter with a steal and fast break layup followed with a made layup off of a baseline drive in the final possession of the quarter.

At the start of the second quarter, Toulouse again got off to a hot start building the lead back up to double digits, but freshman Shanise Bultron nailed a three and Bepko converted another fast break layup to bring Hartford back within 25-18 midway through the period.

Doherty then scored the next seven Hartford points and ended the first half with a nifty layup and got fouled to make the score 37-31 in favor of Toulouse at the break.

After Toulouse built their lead up to 17, Doherty continued to shine with an array of tough jump shots from the high post that pulled Hartford within 55-43 heading into the final quarter.

Hartford never got within single digits until a late rally forced Toulouse to call a timeout after Bepko scored inside and sophomore Alyssa Englert drove and made an up and under layup.

Also contributing for the Hawks was sophomore Taylor Clark who added six points and three rebounds and Alex Hall who added five points and three rebounds.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Update from France: Hawks Drop Consolation Game, will Play One More on Sunday

The Hawks took to the court for the second time playing on international soil on Saturday against Tarbes Gespes Bigoree in the consolation game of the 2011 BEST (Basketball European Star Tournament) in Rodez, France. The Hawks are one of four teams, the only international team, in the traditional tournament style event. Below is a recap of their first game against Tarbes Gespes Bigorre, written by Cedric Quackenbush.

Playing in their second game in France, Hartford fell 94-41 to Tarbes Gespes Bigorre in the consolation game of the “Basketball European Star Tournament.” Tarbes is considered one of the top professional teams in France and finished in second in the country last year.

Freshman Cherelle Moore led all players in scoring with 17 points on 7-15 shooting from the field. Alex Hall scored eight points to go along with three rebounds and one assist, while Ruthanne Doherty scored seven points and had a team high five rebounds.

The Hawks shot just 26% compared to 48% shooting for Tarbes. Sophomore Alyssa Englert who started the past two games at the point guard scored 6 points and had 5 assist.

Moore put Hartford on the board early with a jump shot but Tarbes jumped out to a quick 23-3 lead to claim control of the game. Hartford rallied at the end of the first quarter to pull within 27-9 heading into the second period.

A three by Moore pulled Hartford wihin 30-14 with 6:11 to go in the second but again Tarbes responded and took a 43-19 lead at halftime.

The Hawks were called for 26 fouls compared to 11 for their opponent and Tarbes attempted 39 free throws with Hartford attempting 10.

Hartford will take on Toulouse Metrepole Basket on Sunday to conclude their international campaign in France.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Update from France: The Hawks First Taste of International Basketball

The Hawks took to the court for the first time playing on international soil on Friday against FC Lyon as they opened up play in the 2011 BEST (Basketball European Star Tournament) in Rodez, France. The Hawks are one of four teams, the only international team, in the traditional tournament style event. Below is a recap of their first game against FC Lyon, written by Cedric Quackenbush.

In their first game playing in Rodez, France, the Hartford women’s basketball team fell 70-55 to FC Lyon. The Hawks had three players score in double figures as Hartford shot 31% from the field. Freshman Amber Bepko paced the Hawks scoring with 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three point territory, off the bench. Junior Alex Hall just missed a double-double scoring 12 points to go with a team high nine rebounds. Fellow classmate Ruthanne Doherty added 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Doherty scored the first two points for the Hawks on a turnaround jumper in the post, helping her team jump out to a 12-9 lead. From that point, FC Lyon took control scoring the next 13 points to end the quarter with a 22-12 advantage. The Hawks trailed at the halftime break 45-25.

A pair of three pointers from Bepko along with back to back jumpers from sophomore Alyssa Englert and freshman Cherelle Moore pulled Hartford within a 56-40 deficit midway through the third quarter. However, FC Lyon quickly responded with five-straight points to finish the quarter and lead 61-40 going into the final period.

The Hawks would not go quietly as Moore opened the fourth quarter with an offensive rebound and put-pack that ignited a late surge. Back to back jumpers from senior Keyokah Mars-Garrick cut FC Lyons lead to 68-53 and Bepko added another bucket to bring the Hawks within thirteen with a minute left in the game. Overall, the Hawks held FC Lyon to just 25 second half points.

With two players out due to injury, Coach Rizzotti was able to give everyone valuable minutes including four freshmen. Bepko added five rebounds and two steals to go along with her team-high 14 points. Moore added four points and four rebounds while Shanise Bultron contributed six rebounds. Forward Shelby Fogarty chipped in four rebounds.

The Hawks return to the court on Saturday when they take on Tarbes Gespes Bigorre with game time scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday's update from France: The Hawks take the court in France for their final preparation before Friday's game

A few hours and two different modes of transportation later, the Hawks have arrived in Rodez, France and had the opportunity to practice in the facility they will be playing two games in on Friday and Saturday. The Hawks will be participating in a traditional tournament style event. They will first play FC Lyon at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Friday night and then play either Nice Basketball Club or Tarbes Geste Basketball at either 12:30 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Saturday. Stay tuned to the women’s basketball blog for game recaps following each game.

Below are the latest videos from France. Sophomore Milana Gilbert discusses her experience at The Louvre in the first video, while ending with a short French lesson for the fans. In the second video we take a peek into the Hawks final practice before beginning competition tomorrow.

Alyssa Englert Updates the Blog

Hey Hawk Fans!!!

Alyssa Englert here from the Hartford Hawks Women’s Basketball Team with a quick update from France. WOW, has it been a couple of busy but fun filled days here in Paris! Yesterday while on our tour of Paris, we got to visit and explore the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and then go on an amazing boat ride around Paris and see the city illuminated at night!! This place is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking!!!

Today they took us to The Louvre museum so we could see paintings and sculptures like the “Venus de Milo,” The Winged Victory of Samothrace, and best of all…the Mona Lisa! Never thought I would be able to see that up close, what a great experience! After the museum, we explored Montmartre and did a little bit of shopping. We are back at our hotel for a little while and then out for our final dinner in Paris!

It’s been such a great time here with the team, coaches and athletic staff! Certainly going to be hard to leave here tomorrow but we are off to Rodez, France to play some basketball!!! GO HAWKS!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day Two: The Hawks Tour Paris and the Eiffel Tower

The Hawks arrived in France in the early morning on Tuesday after a six hour flight that began in Boston. They spent their first full day overseas touring around Paris, including a tour of the Eiffel Tower. Below is an interview with junior Ruthanne Doherty and a short clip talking with members of the team as they wait in line before going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Keyokah Mars Garrick: The Anticipation of Playing in France

In the days leading up to our France trip we had two last days of practice. It was definitely a time when your mind is elsewhere; thinking of what you need to still buy and pack, getting anxious for the trip itself, and then back to the practice you’re in the middle of. Getting through the last two days was exciting knowing what was to come but also demanding of our focus and execution to not just have a good practice but a great one.

As the France trip came near it was almost unbelievable. We know what we’ve been preparing for but the thought of going to play in France is a little surreal. The part that will make the entire trip a little more concrete will be getting on that plane and flying over to Europe for the next six hours!

~ Keyokah

Monday, August 1, 2011

Final Blog from Chile: Returning Home with a Little Extra Gold!

So, we have started our journey home. Right now, I'm in the airport in Santiago, Chile where I found myself stuck two weeks ago with the teams from Brazil and Canada trying to get to Puerto Montt to begin our quest for the Gold Medal at the U19 World Championships. Now I sit here (after a short flight rather than a 12 hour bus ride) with a Gold Medal in my bag.

I feel as if we squeezed an entire basketball season into three weeks. We began in Colorado Springs learning about each other and starting to build that bond of trust that is so essential in winning teams. We traveled away together from the comforts of home to a tournament where everyone was rooting against us and yet the pressure to win at times felt overwhelming. We won together, we struggled together, we lost together. But at the end of it all, we found away to come together and play our best when it mattered the most.

I appreciate my assistant coaches Joi (Williams) and Sue (Semrau) so much for keeping me sane through all of this. Whether it was staying up late to finish a scout, providing constant suggestions and encouragement, or giving me much needed comic relief, I couldn't have done it without them. Thanks also to Caroline and Jim for the laughs, the runs and the pisco sours; Summer, Dave, Zach and Jamie for all their hard work; and of course to Carol Callan for her guidance and faith in me as the coach of this team. She seemed to know all along that we'd find a way to pull it off.

The feeling of winning a World Championship is indescribable. I feel honored to have accomplished this at such an early point in my coaching career. I'm not sure the players really understand all that they represent at this point in their lives. As a coach you do. The expectation in the United States to win in the sport of basketball is high and I hope that we will continue to develop and teach these kids at a young age what it means to develop their skills and work ethic, respect their opponents and play with pride for their country. I hope I was able to do my part in helping develop some of the future stars of our game.

And now, I can't wait to get home and see my family. This is the longest I've ever been away from my kids and they seemed to grow with every phone call and picture sent. I'm lucky to have a partner in my husband who understands how important this was for me to do even though it was a sacrifice for our family. Thanks to my parents who provided "Camp Rizzotti" for a few weeks for my kids to enjoy. Thanks also to my staff at Hartford who have been out on the road recruiting all of July with the goal of finding kids who will continue to assure our success and the growth of our program in the future. I feel very lucky and blessed today.

Thanks for following. Stay tuned in a few weeks for more blogs as our Hartford Hawks team travels to France for our own foreign tour!