The streets of New York City were covered with snow on Saturday morning and heavy snow continued to fall throughout the day. The mayor of New York City and the governor of New York State warned people to remain in their homes, yet anyone who understands the high level of courage and responsibility of members of the armed forces of the United States were not surprised to learn the men’s and women’s basketball teams of West Point and the Naval Academy were at Madison Square garden prepared to play that afternoon.
The women’s game began before as crowd of only 1,045 who braved the blizzard and governmental warnings to stay at home. The far more experienced Army (16-2, 6-1), with four seniors in the starting lineup, easily dominated Navy (9-10, 3-5) throughout the Patriot League contest. Army took a massive early lead, 16-2, at 5:58 of the first quarter. Army senior, Jean Parker, gave her take on her team’s great start, “Everybody honed in on doing their part. That’s why we started so well.”
Both teams scored 12 points in the second quarter for Army to lead, 37-21, at the half, but Army’s 9-2 start in the third period raised their advantage to 23 points, 46-23.
An even more impressive final quarter by Army, 22-9, raised the final score to 75-38.
Army’s veteran coach, Dave Magarity, expressed respect for his players’ performance, “it was a tremendous performance by this group. I’m as littler stunned [as there were] so many distractions, playing in Madison square garden, the weather and that their families were here. They executed the game plan almost flawlessly. We got great minutes from the younger kids off the bench.”
The win was the team’s 13th in the last 14 contests. The coach told one reporter, “The team is as good as their record.”
Magarity gave especially high praise to his record breaking seniors, “The victory raised the mark of the Class of 2016 to 85-27, a school record. Army, now second in the Patriot League, has an excellent chance to qualify for its fourth consecutive postseason tournament. “I’m blessed to have this group”, enthused the proud coach. Two of the Army seniors were the only players on the court to score in double figures. Parker scored 15, her third highest total of the season. Navy Coach Stefanie Pemper opined, “Her leadership is so important to what they do even if it is not seen in the stats.”
Kelsey Minato has rewritten the Army record book in her four years at West point. Her game high total of 22 points raised her career scoring to 2,233, an Army record and second in Patriot League career scoring. The game was the 98th straight in which she has scored in double digits, a league mark. She is first among active NCAA players in free throws netted and in free throw percentage. The Navy coach commented, “She [Minato] influences them [Army teammates] subconsciously.”
The two young women were thrilled to play their first game at MSG. Minato remarked, “It was a really special experience, especially against Navy.” Parker stated, “It’s pretty surreal knowing who has played here.”
Both will become Second Lieutenants upon graduation this year. Parker will join the Corps of Engineers and Minato will move to a Branch detail in Field Artillery before going to the Signal Corps.
An announcement was made at the conclusion of the contest that disappointed everyone in the Garden. The men’s game was cancelled due to the Travel Ban imposed by Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio because of the more than two feet total of snow in New York City. Magarity disgustedly said both teams and the officials were present, yet the game was not allowed to be played.