Point guard Anastasia Grekos and forwards Christina Kyritsis, Jovana Simonovic and Tatjana Jagodic are all 10th graders who were on the undefeated team that swept the season and won the championship last year, and they characterize an all-for-one attitude.
“Our [team’s] best aspect is teamwork because, as our coaches say, it’s not five fingers, it’s a fist,” Kyritsis said during a recent practice.
Playing as a single cohesive unit comes pretty natural to the quartet mainly because of the familiarity that each has with one another.
“We’ve played together since we were little so each year [our teamwork has improved],” Jagodic said. “So we have a good [feel for each other’s games.]”
Familiarity isn’t the only key to their success — there’s also a lot of time in the gym.
“It was a lot of practicing every single day, we worked really hard,” Grekos said. “Basically, it was just teamwork. That’s what paid off, just [working hard], practices and just always being committed.”
The four are also using their own experience to help out this year’s newcomers.
“We’re definitely working with our juniors [ninth graders],” Simonovic said. “We’re helping them out with our plays and making sure they catch up so we can all play as a team at the end of the day.”
The specific way that they will assist the juniors in regards to plays, Grekos explained is by drawing from their knowledge of what they did last year.
“What we did was write down the plays, kind of studied them a little bit [and] practiced them a lot,” the East York point guard said on Thursday, just before a 7 a.m. practice.
“So if the grade nines need any help I’ll just help them with anything, like, if they ask me to help them with the plays then yeah sure, no problem, I will.”
The unselfish qualities that Kyritsis, Grekos, Simonovic and Jagodic display is one of their defining traits, but it’s certainly not their only one, as they also all bring something a little different to the team individually.
Simonovic is an impressive shooter, and is a constant source of motivation on the court, always staying vocal to keep her team’s spirits up, says head coach Stacy Ganogiannis.
Jagodic is a tenacious scorer who has a very upbeat and “gung-ho” approach to the game.
Grekos has a high basketball I.Q., with her ability to know the playbook inside-out, something the coach says is a great asset for the team since she plays the point.
While Kyritsis is very talented overall, and while she’s listed at forward, she’s more of a guard/forward combo because she is capable of playing point guard, shooting guard and small forward. She also has great endurance and conditioning because she’s a track star as well and is currently the 800 metre national champion in her age group.
The individual merits that each girl brings to the team cannot be overstated, but in the end, as the head coach said, “Everyone [on the East York basketball team], I want to emphasize, works as a team.”