The Castleton State College Women’s basketball team closed the final chapter of what was a historical season.
Tufts University welcomed the Spartans in the second round of the NCAA tournament after coming off two key comeback wins in a “win or go home” type of fashion.
Castleton started off their last contest of the Sweet 16 tournament a bit slow and powered back too late in their 55-35 season ending loss to Tufts. However, the end result didn’t define how the season played out.
“It’s been an unbelievable ride,” said Head Coach Tim Barrett. “I couldn’t be happier for our players and six seniors.”
It’s tough for any team to take away a lot of positive after a convincing loss, but Barrett was able to find the silver lining.
“I think it’s all positive, especially getting to a point where this program has never been,” Barrett said.
Alyssa Leonard who was named Player of the Year by the conference and was honored by D3.com and New England Women’s Basketball Association was full of positivity five days after the loss to Tufts.
“I could not have imagined a better senior year season,” said Leonard. “Walking away from Castleton I couldn’t really ask for anymore.”
Leonard praised the coaches, the parents, the college, the community and the fans for such great support throughout her four years playing.
She also said the Tufts head coach commented on how impressive Castleton’s fan base was.
As the Spartans look forward, their future looks promising as they will be returning starting point guard Jade Desroches who was pivotal in the team’s first NCAA win.
The game marked the first NCAA win for any sport in Castleton history. Desroches finished with 32-points – half of the team’s total.
Another key player, junior forward Meghan O’Sullivan, will hold down the paint next year for the Spartans. O’Sullivan averaged 11.2 points per game and snagged 3.7 rebounds per game.
Unfortunately, graduation will claim NAC Defensive Player of the Year Liz Douglass. Douglass averaged 6.7 points per game, 5.1 rebounds a game and 2.0 steals per game.
The Spartans will try to replicate and even exceed this season next year, but they understand it will be no easy task.
“I think it will be hard, but with the players returning with experience from the big games we played this year it will help a lot,” Desroches said.
She said anyone can lead the way for the team next year, but as for herself and O’Sullivan, who will both be seniors, she recognizes they must step up.
“Next year we need to start off where we ended this year,” Desroches said.