Poly Prep is going to win a title game this year, promise the Blue Devil’s senior double threat of Jacquie Kennedy and Kerri Saputo, who have seen too many championship chances slip through their fingers.
Kennedy and Saputo — friends and teammates since freshman year on their school’s basketball, volleyball, and softball teams — are on a personal mission to walk away with a state crown in basketball for the first time in their careers. They’re off to a good start as Poly Prep moved to a 4–0 record with a 56–29 non-league win over Fontbonne Hall at home on Friday. Kennedy scored 17 points and Saputo added 15 before the final buzzer.
“To know that we’ve been so close to a title,” Saputo said. “I just want to know what it’s like to be on the other side.”
Yet it was junior Brigid Regan who led all scorers on Friday with 18 points from six 3-pointers. Regan played little last season, and Poly Prep coaches say they will look to her to fill out their lineup as a 3-point threat to help Kennedy and Saputo on their mission.
Saputo and Kennedy, considered the first lady of women’s volleyball, walked away from their last two title games with their heads in their hands: the basketball team dropped the New York State Association of Independent Schools Class C title to the Hackley School in Tarrytown on a buzzer beater. In November, Poly Prep’s volleyball team lost the title game.
“It eats at us every day,” the girls said in unison.
To claim the city title they so desperately desire, the girls accepted major leadership roles. On the court, Kennedy and Saputo take the role of a player-coach: they direct players to spots, yell out plays, and are always in their teammates ears. They play an instrumental role on many levels, according to coach Mike Junsch.
“They’re involved in choosing the team and involved in the decisions we make on the court,” said Junsch, who holds Kennedy and Saputo accountable at all times. When Bonnie Elizabeth Serrone dribbled past Kennedy for an easy basket with seven minutes left in the lopsided win, Junsch still called a timeout to lecture the team on defense.
“He’s not a fan of those easy ones,” Kennedy said laughing.
Fontbonne Hall players, who won the Catholic High School Athletic Association Brooklyn/Queens Division II championship before losing to Catholic State in the semifinals last season, wasn’t smiling after its loss to Poly Prep.
Many of the Bonnies are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy — which left half the squad homeless — but coach Steve Oliver doesn’t want to use the super storm as a crutch.
“We’re still about two weeks away, but we won’t make any excuses,” Oliver said. “This team is just as good as last years.”