Basketball travels to Florida to compete in the KSA tournament


Caterina Pye '23

The Sacred Heart Greenwich varsity basketball team competes in the KSA tournament in Orlando, Florida.

The Sacred Heart Greenwich varsity basketball team returned to Orlando, Florida, for the first time since 2019 to compete in the Kaylee Scholarship Association (KSA) tournament December 20 to 22.  The tournament exposed the team to new and more experienced opponents, compared to those they normally encounter in the Fairchester Athletic Association (FAA) league during their regular season.  Coach Ayo Hart and junior co-captains Payton Sfreddo and Madison Hart led the team to their 2-1 record.  This tournament improved not only the players’ basketball abilities, but also their team spirit and connection on the court.

The team first faced off against Cardinal O’Hara from Springfield, Pennsylvania, winning 57-43.  Heading to the semifinals of the tournament, they played Upper St. Clair from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, losing 41-48.  Looking to place third, the team competed against Wise County Central from Norton, Virginia, and won 43-36.  Coach Hart commented on the team’s overall performance throughout the tournament. 

Players and coaches strengthen their bonds at the theme park at the Universal Orlando Resort.  Courtesy of Payton Sfreddo ’24

“I was very proud of the team and how effectively our girls competed against some pretty good competition,” Coach Hart said.  “Our first game paired us up with perennial Catholic powerhouse Cardinal O’Hara.  Our defensive intensity overwhelmed Cardinal O’Hara.  I was impressed with the strong start our team showed and, more importantly, the fact that our players were able to sustain that level of intensity for the entirety of the game.  Our semifinal game matched us with Upper St. Clair from PA.  We fought, but Upper St. Clair won the battle of the boards.  We moved to the consolation game where we would tip off against 2022 VA state champions Central-Wise, our third and final seasoned opponent.  The Warriors strung together a couple of runs in the fourth quarter to pull back within single digits before our once again stellar defense solidified our third place finish in a very competitive bracket.”

The team explored the theme park at the Universal Orlando Resort during their stay, where they engaged in the rides and attractions, strengthening their bond through the activities.  Madison believed that this opportunity helped establish stronger relationships that will improve the team’s performance on the court.  She explained how playing high-level and competitive teams helped players develop skills that will be beneficial for the remainder of the season.

“During this tournament, we improved our transition opportunities, our defensive intensity, and our camaraderie,” Madison said.  “The trip also provided a lot of time to connect with the team, do team bonding, and have a lot of fun.”

Due to her performance in the three games, Payton received the Most Valuable Player award from the KSA.  She believes the trip provided each player with valuable lessons they can carry out through the rest of the season.  

The Sacred Heart varsity basketball team places third in the KSA tournament.  Courtesy of Payton Sfreddo ’24

“By taking the trip to Orlando for the KSA basketball tournament, I think the team was exposed to a lot of new and different competition that we wouldn’t normally have seen in our regular season,” Payton said.  “It was such a great bonding experience that I think will greatly benefit the team’s camaraderie as we move forward in our season.  I think everyone had a lot of fun, on and off the court, and learned a lot about their teammates and themselves as a player.  As a captain and member of the team, I was so happy to see the team evolve even in just five days, and it gives us a lot of hope for our potential this season.”

Coach Hart commented on how the KSA tournament granted the team an opportunity to further develop their skills.  The experience awarded the team exposure to different competition and provided time for the team to connect, which helped them succeed while playing on the trip and will enhance their performance throughout the rest of the season.   

“We plan an overnight each season because I believe it gives our team the opportunity to play tougher competition than we would normally see in the Fairfield/New Haven area and to get away from external factors such as parents and school and just bond and grow closer off the court,” Coach Hart said.  “This trip afforded the girls the time needed to really get to know one another, to learn to live together, to make decisions that will impact one another and to compromise when needed.  We had players get out of their comfort zones, overcome fears and strengthen their friendships with teammates.  These relationships and connections are far more important than any season record or basketball skill, and I am grateful to the athletic department and most importantly our team families for making this trip possible for our team.”

Featured Image Caterina Pye ’23