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Family atmosphere key for Episcopal Academy squad

Marple Newtown >> Family – it’s the one word emblazoned on the white long-sleeved warm up shirt of the Episcopal Academy boys’ basketball team above the official EA logo.
“We have a really close team on and off the court,” said senior captain Matt Dade, following his team’s difficult 55-51 loss at Shipley on Jan. 5. “It’s like we’re brothers. We have a family mindset that makes us work hard. You are playing for the guy next to you and not just yourself.”
As a family you are most likely going to encounter highs and lows. The Churchmen are certainly not exempt. They have won some big games – Hill School, Springside Chestnut Hill and Peddie School but have also lost some heartbreakers – Westtown, Phelps and Friends’ Central and most recently Shipley.
Despite the difficult losses, the team has stuck together which has Head Coach Craig Conlin and the rest of the coaching staff hoping it will pay dividends as they prepare to dive into Inter-Ac play.
“We believe these close games will pay dividends for us in the next six weeks during the Inter-Ac schedule,” Conlin said. “We stress to the guys the importance of playing hard, smart and together. We also remind them of how close these games can be & how margins can be so close that sometimes it could come down to just one possession. Sometimes, we may need to get a stop & a defensive rebound, or we need to execute great on offense and get a basket. Our margins are tight and we’re hoping that these games will toughen us as we move forward.”
Following the hard-fought loss to Shipley, the Churchmen returned to action on Tuesday afternoon against Inter-Ac foe Penn Charter. Again, EA opened the game strong racing out to a 20-7 lead after one quarter of play.
Penn Charter remained unfazed and clawed their way back eventually earning the 60-56 win outscoring EA 36-22 in the second half. Despite another tough loss, EA kept their heads up knowing what they have to do.
“We have to continue to lead by example,” said junior Alex Capitano. “We know as experienced players these losses are on us, but we have to come together as a team and learn from these games.”
Conlin added, “It is extremely rewarding and satisfying to see our guys stick together through good times and in bad times. You see teams all the time fracture when things don’t go their way. We’re very aware of that and instead of fracturing or exploding, we teach a desire to come together closer and tighter than before. We stress constantly that we are brothers in this together and that we have each other’s back when things look bleak. We stress that we are there for each other & that we play for the man next to us.”
“The leadership shown by our veteran players has been outstanding this season. We are really fortunate to have three tremendous captains in Matt Dade, Jack O’Reilly and John McElwee. We also have two other seniors in Luke Lesher & Jalin Meachum, that may not have been named captain, but are excellent leaders as all five seniors have “been through the fire.” It is very rewarding to see the older veterans passing on our traditions and culture to our young boys.”
EA returns to action on January 11 when they host Haverford School in another tough Inter-Ac battle.

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