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Courtside with Coach Rivera: a season of unity and victory at Revere

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By Dom Nicastro


In her inaugural year at the helm of Revere High School’s varsity girls’ basketball team, Coach Ariana Rivera has embarked on a journey of self-discovery, unveiling her unique coaching philosophy amidst a diverse array of coaching styles within her staff. Rivera’s approach – characterized by a blend of energy and composure – has been instrumental in guiding her team through the highs and lows of a demanding season.

The team finished 14-6 in the regular season and shared the Greater Boston League championship with Lynn Classical. It will be embarking on the postseason soon, with tournament matchups for Division 1 and the rest of the divisions out soon.

A pivotal moment that encapsulated the team’s unity and potential was their game at the TD Garden against Notre Dame Academy-Hingham, a match that Coach Rivera describes as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This game not only highlighted the team’s ability to compete at a high level but also served as a catalyst for realizing their collective and individual capabilities.

We caught up with Rivera for a Q&A as her team prepares for the postseason:

Advocate: Being your first-year coaching varsity for this team, what did you learn personally about your coaching style – what works, what surprised you, etc.?

  Rivera: I think, overall as a coaching staff, we have so many different coaching personalities, which makes for a great balance. I find my energy as a coach often channels through to the players, so in high-intensity moments, I do my best to keep the composure.

  Advocate: Captains are always a big part of a team’s success. Tell me about what the captains brought on and off the court – individually and as a unit – for this regular season?

  Rivera: Alisha Jean has been one of my vocal captains on and off the court in the back half of our season. Alisha sets the tone from tip off, and her teammates usually follow suit.

Haley Belloise is the court general to our offense. She has done a great job this season of recognizing her role, but is not afraid to stray away from her playmaker role when we need some quick buckets.

Bella Stamatopolous has been adding her spark off the bench in our final regular-season stretch. We can always rely on Bella to be vocal during games as well as practices.

Belma Velic has been working on her outside game a bit more, which is only a good thing for us, offensively. Belma’s versatility will make it much easier for Alisha to do some damage in the paint.

  Advocate: Was there a defining moment for this team where it all came together this season – and what was that like?

  Rivera: Our defining moment this year had to be our TD Garden game against Notre Dame Academy-Hingham. As a coach, this experience was once in a lifetime, so I can’t imagine how the girls felt. This game was an opportunity for these girls to compete with a very talented and high-ranked team. They were able to play fast-paced and high-pressure basketball. This game was huge for us because we started to realize our potential as a whole and individually.

  Advocate: Who among the younger players stepped up this year and how so?

  Rivera: Sophomore Shayna Smith stepped up this year into a different role: playing more on the perimeter as opposed to down low. She has adjusted her game and helped a lot with bringing the ball up the floor.

Freshman Sarah Lechheb stepped up with some big minutes this year and will definitely be needed postseason. Her urgency and speed in bringing the ball up is great for our offensive tempo. She is a fearless, lockdown defender. We can’t wait to see how she continues to grow and work on her game.

  Advocate: What kinds of things are you looking to polish as a team as you head into the tourney?

  Rivera: Due to injuries, we are struggling to find someone who can consistently run our offense. Thankfully, we have had a long stretch of practices and scrimmages to prepare.

  Advocate: What GBL team brought out the best in you this year, and what did it do for your team’s growth?

  Rivera: Lynn Classical. We broke even with Lynn Classical and shared the GBL title. Both games were down to the wire, and we fell short the second matchup. That loss allowed us to work on our basketball IQ and emphasize certain game-like situations.

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