MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The Cougars varsity girls basketball team was named the Essex County Team of the Year and third-year head coach Chuck Keegan was named Coach of the Year by Sideline Chatter, an online sports page covering Essex County high school sports.
While the team played a modified schedule, playing half the number of games they normally would, the 2020-2021 season proved to be one of their best seasons since 2013-2014. Being named the Essex County Team of the Year follows the heel of their successful season. This season, Columbia went 13-0 and won the SEC–Liberty Division title.
“The Columbia High School community couldn’t be prouder of these young women,” CHS Principal Frank Sanchez said. “Thanks to the district’s streaming service, I was able to catch many of the games, and it was obvious how well-prepared they were by Coach Keegan. We also especially appreciated how close they were with each other, with the players supporting their teammates all season.’
Keegan expressed how happy he was just to be out on the court each day with his team throughout the challenging 2021 season. Keegan served as the Cougars team top assistant coach for three years, and took the reins as head coach for the program during the 2018-2019 season. He has played a key role in directing the Cougars team to one of their best seasons in many years. In addition, he has extensive experience in CHS athletics, having previously served as the former head football coach and gridiron assistant. Keegan is a 1988 Columbia graduate and special-education math teacher at the high school. He guided the team along with assistant coaches Alana Ferruggiaro and Aaron Brietman.
“We are so proud of this team and Coach Keegan and his staff,” Superintendent of Schools Ronald Taylor said. “In a year where things were untraditional, this team’s resilience and hard work is one that we are so proud of, and we look forward to taking it all the way to the county and state tournament next year.”
In a year marked by COVID-19–related challenges, there was no county or state tournament title to shoot for; however, this past season was one for the books.
Members of the 2020-2021 Cougars girls varsity team include: seniors Corteney Provilon-Louis, Kaijhe Hall, Sophia Rounsavil, Annabel Callahan and Reyniyah Rogers-Carter; sophomores Samiya Hill, Bella Galatt, Allie Harris and Shana Desir; and freshmen Talia Baptiste and Zahra Alexander.
Photos Courtesy of SOMSD