The difference between high school and college can often be measured by the various experiences and broader opportunities presented to the student body.
For Brianna Grap, a graduated senior and all-time leading scorer from Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School in Essex, that experience came in the opportunity of a lifetime – playing a basketball game at Madison Square Garden.
Now a freshman guard for the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Baltimore, Grap stepped onto the floor, ran some plays and scored some points in the greatest venue of all, located in New York City.
That’s right, playing a league game against PAC league opponent Cabrini College set up the perfect opportunity for the first NCAA Division III women’s basketball game ever to be played in such a prestigious venue.
The Gators found out early in the season that The Garden would play host to this in-conference contest, and the players were psyched. Grap described is as “a once in a lifetime thing.”
Though the outcome was disappointing, with a 71-37 loss to the Cabrini Cavaliers, the experience was a keeper and the young Gators are better for it.
“They were pumped,” said Head Coach Rob Long, who is in his second year with the team. “I am so proud of these young women. They had the appropriate pulse on this game.”
The Gators are 2-5 in league play and 4-10 overall. Long said that they are a young squad with the pride and energy needed to turn it around within a season or two.
Against Cabrini, the Gators knotted the game at seven before Grap drilled a three-pointer from the field to give the Gators their first lead of the day. From there, the Gators used a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 26-24 at the half, but the second half of the game was a different story. Cabrini caught fire offensively, and the Gators couldn’t find the basket as time expired for a final score of 71-37.
“We were tired on the ride home,” said Grap, “but it was a great experience. We are a young team and we just keep working hard.”