After two seasons playing in CHSAA Brooklyn⁄Queens Division II, the Bishop Loughlin girls’ basketball team will move back up to Division I next season, according to athletic director Angela Proce. She, varsity head coach Rocco Romano and his staff came to the decision two weeks ago and the move was approved by the league.
“It’s all about timing,” Romano said. “The JV players are young, but they are talented. I’d rather see them have their growing pains when they are sophomores and hopefully in their junior year they will be more competitive. If we waited for their junior year to move up they are still going to have growing pains. No matter when you move up, it’s still a different level of competition. Let’s have the growing pains now so that the core of these young girls by their junior year would have had the transition.”
The Lions believe they have the talent, now and certainly in the years to come, to compete at the highest level. Their varsity team loses just four seniors, Ayanna Battle, Ariel Gotay, Maeishah Michel and Zoe Munlyn. They will return key contributors Genesis Hall, a sophomore, and freshman Tiffany Benjamin from a team that lost to St. John’s Prep in the Division II diocesan final. Loughlin has been the runner−up the last two seasons.
“We have players who can play at that level or have the potential to play at that level and in order for them to grow as players and be better they need to play against better competition,” Romano said. “The higher the competition, the faster they will progress.”
One of the keys to the decision was the talent on the JV team, made up mostly of freshman, which won the Division II diocesan title last year. The squad included Tayshana (Chicken) Murphy, considered one of the best freshmen in the city.
“The girls on that team, especially Ty Murphy, have great potential,” Romano said. “We think that down the road they could be D−I talent. They need to play against other D−I talent.”
When Proce was first approached about moving back up next year she said she was at first hesitant. Loughlin, which used to play at the Division I level, with the likes of Christ the King, Archbishop Molloy, Bishop Ford and Mary Louis, played in Division II for the last two seasons. The program wasn’t bringing in the same caliber player it had in the past. When Proce took over as athletic director last year, moving back to that level was one of her goals.
“I didn’t think it was going to be this soon,” she said. “Hopefully we do well. I mean, we may struggle a little bit, but we are just looking down the road. … I think we will be competitive next season, but maybe the year after we’ll be even more competitive.”
The move was something she had in mind when she hired Romano and his staff, JV head coach and assistant Kasim Alston and assistant Laura Eshelman, for last season.
“With Rocco and Kasim, I think the two of them are a great team,” Proce said. “I think they can get the job done.”