Hitting the Road: Lynn Classical’s undefeated girls team enjoys field trip to UConn college basketball game

The Lynn Classical High girls basketball team traveled to the Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn., Saturday to watch the UConn-Butler University women’s basketball game.

Head coach Tom Sawyer and assistant coaches Rob Smith, Alina Garrity, and Shardaye Berry chaperoned the annual trip.

“We’ve attended a college basketball game just about every year,” said Sawyer who is in his 17th season as head coach and has his Lady Rams leading the GBL with a 14-0 record.  “I think it is important to expose the student athletes to college athletics and a college campus even if it is only for part of one day.”

The team was making its second visit to watch UConn, who has been a perennial contender for the NCAA Division 1 national championship under Coach Geno Auriemma. UConn easily defeated Butler, 79-39. Past college campus destinations for Classical teams have included Harvard, Merrimack, Bentley, Framingham State, and Boston College.

Sawyer described the atmosphere inside the Gampel Pavilion for the UConn game as “electric.” From the “lights out” starting lineup introductions, to everybody clapping and standing up until UConn scores a point, to the on-court activities during timeouts, to the outstanding play on the floor, it is an ideal basketball environment,” related Sawyer.

Rams clinch tourney berth

Classical was one of the first teams in Massachusetts to clinch a berth in the 2023 MIAA State Tournament. The Rams are rolling along in first place in the GBL, but Sawyer said the focus is only on the next opponent.

What has been the key to Classical’s perfect record to-date? 

“I attribute our current record to the old adage of one game at a time,” said Sawyer. “The players have done a good job taking each individual game plan and executing it. Our defense has been solid, and offensively, I would like to think that we have a variety of ways to score such as out of the half court, transition off a defensive rebound, and transition off a defensive steal or deflection. We also have balanced scoring across our five starters who are each averaging between 6.7 and 10.9 points per game.  In our 13 games thus far, we have had five different leading scorers which I feel is a testament to our balance.”

The Rams have been receiving outstanding leadership from their four seniors, Akiya Brown, Lauren Hennessey, Ava Thurman, and Kylee Mills. 

“I believe in high school athletics that senior leadership is very important both on and off the court,” said Sawyer. “Our senior leaders know what is expected of the players in our program and can explain and emulate that to the underclassmen.  On the floor, because our seniors have played a lot of games, they have the experience it takes to make in-game adjustments and help their teammates as well.  Senior leadership is huge in high school athletics, and I have four very good seniors.

Sawyer was asked whether this year’s team has exceeded pre-season expectations.

“I don’t have expectations of number of wins or anything like that.  My expectations are the players in our programs are good ambassadors for Lynn Classical High School and Lynn Classical girls basketball, they are diligent in the classroom, they are good teammates, they give maximum effort, have a good attitude and are coachable.   Given those expectations, I would say this year team has done a very good job, so far.”

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