Winter Lions Scored Big This Year!

The coaches of our winter athletic teams went long on accolades for student-athletes and their Lion-sized achievements this year — and for good reason!

The Girls Varsity Basketball team and the Boys Varsity and JV Basketball teams all roared into the ACIS playoffs, with the Boys Varsity squad bringing home both the ACIS regular season and tournament championships. Our Girls and Boys Varsity Swim teams dove into the ISAL championships, while our Girls JV Basketball team was born and made it to the semi-finals!

Boys Varsity Basketball, Coach Dave Brown ’97
This season will be remembered for one of the most talented and competitive teams in our history. Winning our third consecutive regular season ACIS Championship, coupled with our third consecutive ACIS Tournament Championship, this group continued the Lions’ winning ways. Finishing with a 21-6 overall record, the team posted wins against the eventual PSAL "A," "B," and NYSAIS "B" champions in convincing manner.
Many individual accomplishments include seniors Richard Nweke scoring his 1,500th career point on his way to securing Division 1 offers; Johnik Moores, who set a Dwight record hitting ten three-pointers in one game; and Ethan Wong-Chassine, whose rebounding prowess and defensive presence was key to shutting down the other team. No recap could be complete without the efforts put forth by senior leader Harrison Rich, pushing his body to the limit day in and day out for the team.  
With ten graduating seniors, this group will be surely missed. They had it all: commitment, leadership, toughness, and friendship while also carrying the torch for wins. Next year's team will undoubtedly be led by Point Guard Captain Nick Padilla ’23, who will be joined by fellow backcourt mate Ethan Wills-Johnston, who started 20 games as an eighth grader this season! Big things will be expected of rising seniors Spencer Zeppieri and Matthew deGraft-Johnson. The duo of Tom Ifrah and Shaun Felts are poised to make massive contributions for their junior campaign after each had an impact this past season.

Girls Varsity Basketball, Coach Brett Madarasz
The squad finished the season 11-10 and was ranked the fourth seed in the ACIS playoffs, ultimately falling to Grace Church in the semi-finals. Our Lions were led by Senior Co-Captain Victoria Pauwels and eighth grader Eloise Oppy. Victoria finished the season with 245 points and 220 rebounds; Eloise finished with 157 points and 155 rebounds — and both were named to All League ACIS First Team!

Senior Co-Captain Jade Abramson and Anika Kohane were also a huge part of the team by rebounding and playing stellar defense. All of our seniors will be missed next year. The team will return with ten players led by Olivia Salerno ’23, and all are looking forward to another successful season!

Boys Junior Varsity Basketball, Coach Robert Brooks ’94
During Coach Brooks’s first season with the team, there were some ups and downs due to COVID-19 and injuries, but the team had a 10-7 overall record in the end and went 7-3 in the ACIS, earning a third place standing in the playoffs.  

Lions came out strong at the beginning of the season with high expectations of winning a championship. Although they fell short, the outstanding three-point shooting of Jacob Sender ’26, Jack Kuper ’24, Zachary Bilham-Boult ’25, and Connor Janiak ’26 is what gave us the edge over opponents. Jack Koczan ’23 became the go-to and most seasoned player. Jack Huniford ’24 was the center and his rebounding improved. Maxwell Sidberry ’24 was a very integral part to this group; he would come into the game with passion and work hard every possession. The team’s strong second unit of players may not have made it into the scoring column all the time, but they affected the game in so many other ways that allowed the team to succeed. Special shout-out to Brody Shuffler ’25, who worked hard every practice and also found time to capture great photos. All in all, these young men had a great season and there is a very high ceiling for this group. If they stick together, who knows what will happen!

Girls Junior Varsity Basketball, Coach Cyrus De Guzman 
It was a great inaugural year for this team. Placing fourth in the league, Lions were proud of their commitment to the game and the opportunity to play in a semi-final. Throughout the season, players developed strong fundamental skills and basketball IQ. Many students on the team had never played the game, so it was a great learning opportunity for all! 
Seeing tenth graders’ skills improve exponentially from the first practice to the last game was a joy to watch: Hannah Klamkin’s rebounding, Camille Rondot’s post-defensive, and Isabella Toigo’s steals were forces to be reckoned with; and Morgan Elefant and Valentina Hoover’s leadership will continue the JV’s success for years to come. 

We’re so thrilled to have built the JV program and strengthen girls’ basketball at Dwight. Student interest is only increasing and we’re eager for next year’s season when we can continue to grow.

Boys Middle School Basketball, Coach Jonathan Ascher 
This season was extremely successful with both seventh and eighth graders making tremendous progress in developing their basketball skills, as evidenced by the team’s record of 7-3 and third-place finish in the ISAL.

They had very memorable moments and some stand out more than others. One was a game against Mary McDowell. With 15 seconds left, David Rowe ’27 hit a layup and got fouled, sending him to the foul line, where he completed the three-point play. The foul shot gave us a two-point lead, which we held with great defense for the last few seconds to secure the victory. Another standout was a game against Avenues. After a very back-and-forth first half, Lions were down almost ten points at halftime. Faced with key players in foul trouble, the team bounced back, played disciplined team basketball and emerged victorious by eight points. That win was a great testament to how well this team played together.

Girls Middle School Basketball, Coach Meredith Spiegel 
Our Lions had an outstanding season, even though their 4-4 record may not reflect it. For most, it was their first time playing organized basketball. However, everyone met this challenge head on by committing to learning the game, gaining valuable experience and fundamental skills, which will help them progress next year. Their basketball IQ increased and we saw a major difference in their play from the season’s beginning to the end. Games were a showcase of the team’s positive attitude and hard work, as they often scored 30+ points. 

While the squad worked very hard together, we want to highlight some stand-out performances. Rylie Saltzman ’27 was the team’s floor general as the starting point guard. She helped keep everyone in the right positions on both offense and defense. Niamh Arnold ’26 led the charge on offense, scoring more than 18 points in one game. On the defensive side of the ball, Ella and Klara Heimerback ’26 and Nathalia Heard ’27 were specialists, often shutting down the opposing team's best player. And finally our team would be complete without Kasia Norrington ’27, who came up with the most creative play names, including “material girl,” which worked to perfection each time! We’re excited to see seventh graders step up to lead the team and eighth graders enter the next level in high school in the coming year.

Indoor Track, Coach Doug Sklar 
The small, but dedicated team braved the cold weather to put forth a consistent effort throughout the season. Although the outdoor elements were challenging, Lions demonstrated a steadfast commitment to improving their performance with each successive competition and forged friendships.
Highlight performances included ninth grader Ana Figaredo's 1500-meter race, finishing in 5 minutes and 42 seconds. Fellow ninth graders Alma Laufer Barhad set a team best long jump at 13' 7 inches and Andrea Pennisi clocked a blistering 7.86 seconds in the 55-meter dash. It was a successful season and everyone was excited to see how the team could continue to progress this Spring.

Varsity and Middle School Swimming, Coaches Miguel Rodriguez and Brandon Saavedra
The story of our swim program this season was one of friend groups coalescing into true teams, even a family both in and out of the water. Practice sessions built that spirit through yoga, good group talks, and best of all, dance battles! The unity showed at meets, with everyone cheering one another on, reinforcing the coaches' instruction with both technical reminders and plain encouragement. It showed in our results, too. Our girls dominated at times through the season and our boys’ team improved throughout. The highlight of the season came at the ISAL championships, where the team walked away with a third place overall trophy and second place trophy for the girl’s team. 
Most swimmers will be coming back next year as a strong unit that has what it takes to compete at a high level. Our only senior, Rory Paltridge, was a role model. Even with his eye on his future and prepping for graduation, Rory made sure to convey to all our swimmers how important it is to stay part of the team and lead by example.
This spirit trickled down to our middle schoolers, who joined in dance battles, which made them feel part of the culture that their older swim "siblings" enjoyed. Their season stats were also exemplary. Next year, we look forward to reaching even higher!
No doubt, all of next Winter’s Lions will be up to the challenge!

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