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1987-88 Girls Basketball
Inducted: 2014 - Graduated: Var

1987-88 Girls’ Basketball Team

The 1987-88 Nanuet girls’ varsity basketball team was truly one of the great athletic teams in the history of Nanuet High School sports. The team was the second team in a three-year run that saw Nanuet win a total of 62 games while losing just 7. Three of those losses were to the eventual state champions. The teams had three straight 20-win seasons with the 1987-88 team winning 21 games, tying a then-school record, while losing only 3.

The core of the team – Tina Anemone, Laurie Annunziata, Laura DeVincentis, Kelly Hutmacher, Norinne Powers, Debbie Rogan and Mary Ryan – had been playing together since middle school both on the modified team and in the St. Anthony’s CYO program under the direction of Coach Mike Stocks. Those seven players, combined with junior forward Anne Harris and sophomore guards Allie Shaver and Jennifer O’Neill, rounded out the 10-girl squad. Eighth-grader Margie Sahlstrom was promoted to the varsity with five games to play following an outstanding season on the junior varsity.

The team entered the season with high expectations following the 1986-87 season in which they had won 21 games in a row and captured the League 7 championship en route to a 21-2 record.  They lost to the eventual Section 1 and New York State champion, Our Lady of Lourdes, in the semifinals of the sections.

During the summer of 1987, several of the girls attended basketball camps along with playing in a summer league. Junior center Powers was a key cog in the scholastic gold medal-winning Hudson Valley Region basketball team at the Empire State Games. Senior guard Annunziata was an alternate on that team. Eight of the 10 had played varsity soccer in the fall and made it to the Sectional finals only to lose to Albertus Magnus. Coach Dave Powers, entering his fifth season along with first-year JV Coach Pat Mitchell, had the girls motivated, hungry and ready. Seniors Annunziata, Anemone and Hutmacher were named tri-captains. Their goal: the sectional finals and hopefully a rematch with Our Lady of Lourdes.

The team opened the season by winning its own tip-off tournament with senior forward Anemone being named the most valuable player of the tournament. Anemone, undersized at 5-foot-8, played the game with a rugged toughness. She possessed some great low-post moves and a nice jump shot from the foul line in. Despite her lack of size, Anemone would often guard the other team’s best big girl with amazing results. She wound up averaging for the season 11.1 points a game and 9.2 rebounds a game.

The team would go on to win their next five games (all within the league) by an average margin of victory of 35 points. Anemone, Powers and Annunziata all had 20-point games during this span. Emotional and fiery, senior guard Annunziata played the game with reckless abandon. Lacking in size, Annunziata made up for it with extremely quick hands and feet, which made her a true pest on the defensive end especially in Nanuet’s press defenses. During the season Annunziata led the team in steals with 123 including 11 in a win over Ursuline Academy. Annunziata would average 12.6 points per game along with 6 assists and 5 steals.

Playing a league game in Pelham, the Knights would lose their only league game of the season en route to winning the League 7 championship with a 15-1 record. All five starters fouled out in what was an obvious case of dubious home-court officiating. The girls regrouprd and rattled off an eight-game winning streak. The Lady Knights averaged 67 points per game during this stretch.

While Annunziata could be fiery, her backcourt mate, Hutmacher, was cool and calm on the outside. She was the perfect complement to Annunziata and they played well off of each other. Hutmacher was an excellent ball handler and had a nice shot from long range, which she often had to be prodded into taking. The 1987-88 season saw the introduction of the 3-point shot and Hutmacher led the team in 3-point scoring. Unselfish almost to a fault, Hutmacher averaged 8 points and 5 assists during the course of the season.

The team then traveled to perennial county and sectional powerhouse Albertus Magnus. The game was a seesaw affair with no lead greater than four points. The Falcons prevailed 54-50. Albertus shut down the Knights’ inside game. Senior guard DeVincentis came off the bench to hit two crucial 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to keep us within striking distance. DeVincentis was the team’s first guard off the bench. A good shooter, DeVincentis was a smart ballplayer who really understood the game. She was like a coach on the floor at times. When she entered the game, the team did not skip a beat.

Following the loss to Albertus, the Lady Knights won their last three regular-season games to finish the regular season at 18-2. This record earned the team the second seed in the Section 1 Class B Tournament.

In the opening round of the sectionals, the Lady Knights played Nyack at home before a packed gym. The team raced to a 19-3 first-quarter lead in part due to the spirited play of senior Mary Ryan. Ryan scored 6 points in the quarter to spark the team to an easy 73-28 victory. Ryan and junior Rogan shared the starting forward position alternating starts. Ryan, a strong rebounder, was relentless on the boards and was a nice complement to Anemone when Nanuet went to a zone defense. Ryan would dive for loose balls and come up with those plays that often do not make the stats sheet.

While Ryan played a key role in the win over Nyack, Rogan and eighth-grader Sahlstrom would play huge roles in the team’s 60-47 quarterfinal win over Beacon. Starters Powers and Anemone got into first-half foul trouble. Rogan came up with several key defensive plays including two charges and hit five straight free throws in the second half to help the Knights overcome a 9-point first-half deficit. Rogan was a solid defensive player who had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. She knew and accepted her role whether it was starting or coming off the bench.

Joining Rogan in coming off the bench in the Beacon game was the 5-foot-10 Sahlstrom, who scored a then-career high 12 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Margie played like she had been on the varsity for the entire season instead of someone who was playing in her fifth varsity game. Sahlstrom provided the team with a great deal of versatility coming off the bench. She could play inside and could handle the ball on the perimeter. She would go on to become a career 1,000-point scorer.

The quarterfinal win over Beacon earned the Lady Knights a rematch with Albertus Magnus in the semifinals. Before a jam-packed crowd at Pearl River High School, in what The Journal-News dubbed a “dream matchup,” the Knights prevailed in an intense game, 47-42. As Annunziata would tell the newspaper, “It was payback time.” Annunziata and Anemone hit five foul shots in the closing 30 seconds of the nail-biting win. Powers had hit a turnaround jumper with 1:27 left in the game to give the Knights the lead for good.

Powers a 6-foot-2 forward, had saved her best game of the year for the Albertus game, connecting on 11 of 18 shots on the way to a 25-point, 16-rebound performance. Powers, the League 7 Most Valuable Player, had been held in check by Albertus the first time they played and was determined not to have a similar outcome. Albertus had no answer for her. She averaged 19.5 points per game along with 14.3 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game for the season, balancing a powerful inside game with the ability to shoot from the perimeter. Powers would go on to score more than 1,600 career points as Nanuet’s all-time leading scorer.

Awaiting the Lady Knights in the Section 1 Class B finals was defending state champion Our Lady of Lourdes. In a tough, hard-fought game, the Lady Knights’ season ended, losing 61-53. The team finished the season ranked No. 8 in New York State Class B along with being ranked No. 1 as the top Class B school in the Gannett Westchester-Rockland poll. Five players from this team would go on to play basketball in college. Anemone, Annunziata and Powers were named to the all-league team while Annunziata and Powers were named to the All-Section team. Powers was also named to the All-State team.

The 1987-88 girls’ basketball team has secured an honored place in the annals of Nanuet sports history and The Nanuet High School Sports Hall of Fame is proud to welcome the team into its distinguished ranks.