A lot of teams call themselves a family. But a genuine smile spreads across the face of McKinley girls’ basketball coach Sara Torres when she talks about her players. When she says family, she means it. When she calls them her kids, she is truly speaking from the heart.
Torres, now in her second season as head coach of the Lady Macks, is also in her seventh season overall with the program, as she helped start the program’s JV team and worked along side former long time coach Mike Sorrentino.
“I had a great mentor to work with all those years I was with Mike,” Torres said of her time with Sorrentino.
Torres said that knowing each and every girl on her team from the second they first walked into the gym has helped she and her players develop a bond. A bond of trust that allows her to be perfectly frank when things need to be fixed or addressed and that bond gives Torres the peace of mind to know her girls will listen.
“They do (trust me) because these are my children in a sense,” Torres said with a smile. “This is a program that I work with six days a week. Working with a program six days a week these are people that begin to trust you. You get to know who they are so the time and effort that you put in allows you to be firm with them. I’m just trying to continue to build a program that McKinley can be proud of.”
And the girls’ do listen because they know that Torres without question has nothing but their best in mind.
“Yeah I have a lot of faith in her. She’s really good,” said co-captain Jacinda Wilson, a junior guard.
Wilson and senior forward Crisdalise Almonte will shoulder the responsibilities of leadership as the Macks compete in Canisius Cup Division I.
Torres said that she has total faith in her two leaders and knows they can get the job done on and off the court.
“They have to be ultimate leaders,” Torres said. “To tell the players ‘hey those are the rules. You’re not supposed to break them.'”
McKinley also had solid forwards in senior Shamara Cross, junior Kalea Windsor and a blossoming point guard in sophomore Tatiana Cook.
But the Lady Macks greatest depth might very well be at center as they have junior Salandra Debose, senior Karissa Antoine and sophomore Gena Donald.
Losing to West Seneca East in their opening game, the Macks looked as if they might get the ‘W’ in their Dec.5 game against CSAT when they held an 8-2 lead after the first quarter.. But the Lady Eagles used a 17-4 third quarter to pull away and eventually win 47-27.
The game was an example that the Macks do have the talent to work with. It’s just a matter of putting together a complete game. Torres said a big part of finding that complete game will be learning to adjust when the opposing team throws unexpected defensive schemes at them.
“I’ve seen them grow from JV to now,” Torres said. “I think that I’ve had the opportunity to see them grow and now I’m just able to build that relationship where I can get them to trust me. I want them to trust me because I want to continue to teach them.”
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