PERU — Basketball has always been in Mary and Meghan Mazzella’s blood. Their father (Chris) used to be the head coach for the Peru boys’ varsity basketball team and the sisters always seemed to find themselves on a basketball court.
“I just remember always running around with basketballs and stuff,” Meghan said. “I love the memories of us playing in our driveway, we always encouraged each other to go outside and play.”
This year is the first season Mary, a senior, and Meghan, a sophomore, each find themselves in the starting lineup for the Peru girls’ basketball team.
“I know what she’s going to do more than the other players,” Mary said. “We’re very comfortable together.”
Comfort is something the sisters’ use on the court to help their defensive intensity and scoring. When Mary and Meghan both scored over 10 points in a game the Indians (10-6, 8-6) are undefeated. In all six of Peru’s losses, either Meghan or Mary failed to score at least 10 points.
“We ask both Meghan and Mary to score for the team and be successful,” Indians coach Dave Baroody said. “Opponents try to take that away.”
Meghan and Mary both average 10.4 points per game. Coach Baroody added the sisters are “very competitive with each other,” but Mary and Meghan feel as though as long as the team wins it doesn’t really matter whose name highlights the stat sheet.
“If I don’t have a good game and Mary does, I’m still happy,” Meghan said.
“When the team contributes we’re happy,” Mary added. “We just want another year put up on that banner.”
Coach Baroody believes his team has been playing their best basketball as of late and is more than capable of making a run in the playoffs.
“We need to continue getting better with each practice and each game. The girls are coming together and believe in each other,” Baroody said. “We’re starting to play our best basketball of the year.”
The Indians have won nine of their past 12 games. Their three losses in that span were to from CVAC rivals Beekmantown, Plattsburgh and Saranac.
“I think we’re finding each other’s strengths and developing our skills,” Mary said. “We’re taking all of our talents and putting it toward all four quarters of basketball.”
Making a run in the playoffs is on the top of the Indians’ priority list, and is an expectation for the end of the season.
“We need to finish the season on a strong note and roll into sectionals with confidence and skill,” Mary said. “We want to win.”
Making a playoff push means more than winning games for Meghan and Mary. This will be the last time the two sisters will be on the same court together.
“It’s going to be sad to leave after playing with Meghan for a year,” Mary said. “We’re going to make the season last as long as we can.”
Mary had the utmost respect for her sister when asked what kind of player she thought Meghan was.
“Meghan is a very passionate, competitive player in the way she works hard every day and out of season.” Mary said. “She took on her sophomore role very maturely and I’m proud of her.”
Meghan did not want the thought of her sister leaving to be put in her head just yet.
“It doesn’t feel real. Until it happens I don’t want to think about it,” Meghan said. “I watch her sometimes and say, ‘wow she is really good,’ I feel lucky I got to play with her.”
As her sister graduates, Meghan realizes her role on the team will need to expand.
“When Mary leaves I have to take her spot at point guard and keep doing what I’m doing,” Meghan said. “I need to improve my ball handling, and improve as a leader like she is. I want people to look up to me when she’s gone.”
Baroody doesn’t want the combination of Meghan and Mary to end either, adding they are “exciting to watch.”
“I think Mary has been an outstanding leader,” Baroody said. “She has stepped up and has had an outstanding senior year.”
The Indians can make a statement today when they play rival Beekmantown. Peru lost the previous matchup, 57-45.
“I’m pretty pumped for (tonight),” Meghan said. “We left it all out there last time. We were content after that game. We want that same feeling, but hopefully we’ll win.”
Baroody’s expectations for today are high, and he feels his team can match up well against the first-place Eagles.
“Hopefully our hard work and effort that we’ve been having every day at practice can come together and our team can earn a win against a very talented Beekmantown team,” Baroody said.