CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham girls basketball team had just knocked off the No. 11 team in the state, but coach Joe Gaba still had one more task to perform. He had to head back to the gym and hurry up the arrival of senior guard Maddie Hartnett.
"The celebration can't start until she gets in there," Gaba said.
As soon as Hartnett entered the room, anyone in the vicinity could hear Hartnett and the Cougars rejoicing in the 54-44 win over Manasquan, which culminated a signature week for the Cougars.
"I tend to have a pretty loud voice," Hartnett said.
No one made a louder statement on the court this past week than Hartnett when Chatham went on the road to defeat Morristown-Beard on Jan. 28, Morris Catholic in overtime on Feb. 1 and then returned home to defeat Manasquan on Saturday.
In those three games, Harnett dropped in 12 3-pointers and scored 58 points, capped by five 3-pointers and a career-high 24 points in the win over Manasquan.
"She's having an amazing year," Gaba said. "Just to see what she did against the No. 11 team in the state, hit five threes and go for 24. She's definitely in the conversation for one of the top players in New Jersey."
Maddie Hartnett is the Chatham Wealth Management Athlete of the Week.
One of the highlights of the week for Chatham was its 46-45 overtime win at Morris Catholic. The Cougars were down by a point with three seconds left in overtime when Gaba called the play for Hartnett to drive to the basket.
"We had just run that play with eight seconds left and it hadn't really gone well," Hartnett said. "I tried to go between two girls and I bobbled it and got it back and we called time out. (Gaba) drew up the exact same play. I told myself 'Okay, you've gotta do it right this time.' I was pretty nervous." (see video below).
Hartnett had a breakout season last year as a junior when she was the leading scorer on the 23-7 Chatham squad that won the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 state championship and made it all the way to the Group 3 state final. That's when she became known as a 3-point shooter by sinking 65 threes on the season.
"It's really to her credit," Gaba said. "She put in the time during the offseason between her sophomore and junior year. She has become one of the best 3-point shooters in the state. You just can't leave her alone. She has a shooter's mentality and that's awesome. That's what makes her special. A lot of players when they miss a few, they just stop. She doesn't. We can't have her stop. I always tell her, shooters shoot."
Hartnett has connected on 54 3-pointers this season despite receiving extra attention from the opposition's defense. That can lead to some frustrating moments when the shots are not falling and it's difficult to get a good look at the basket. Hartnett believes the support of her teammates gives her the confidence to keep shooting.
"If I miss a shot, immediately Tess (Ford) will say, keep shooting," Hartnett said. "If I'm getting down on myself, Shannon (Donohoe) comes over to me and says - Hey, you're turning your head. We all know each other so well, we can pick each other up in a way that works for that person. I can tell when they're down on themselves. We all do that for each other. I've never heard a single one of us yell at each other in a game."
Just as important as Hartnet's offensive contribution is her promotion of a family atmosphere on the team. As a sophomore on the varsity, Harnett couldn't help but notice the "drama" that created divisions within the team.
"I did go through that drama," she said. "We'd seen what it's like to play basketball and not have it be that much fun. We all played as a family last year and we loved it. The parents were all best friends and Gaba was cracking jokes. It made basketball the most fun thing in the world. It's the reason I'm going to miss it so much.
"I've never heard a single one of us yell at each other in a game. We hear other teams do it and we're "oh yeah, listen to them they're yelling at each other. We would never do that, let's go"."
After her sophomore year, Hartnett decided to give up lacrosse to concentrate on improving her basketball skills. She enrolled in fall and spring six-week training programs under the tutelage of Tiny Green. The skills training began at 6 a.m. and included shooting drills with a heavy ball while wearing a heavy vest.
The extra work put in by the 5-8 Hartnett raised her level of play and got her recruited by the University of Scranton, where she'll continue her basketball career.
So far this season, Hartnett is averaging 16.6 points per game, hitting 41 percent of her 3-point attempts and sinking 77 percent of her free throws.
"She's a gamer and she comes ready to play," Gaba said. "She is a leader. She's loud and she brings energy and enthusiasm. Our practices are totally loud and noisy and fun because of her."
Editor's note: The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Chatham Wealth Management in recognition of the commitment a Chatham athlete has made to their sport, their school and their community. For over twenty years, Chatham Wealth Management has been committed to putting our clients first by crafting customized investment solutions. Call us at 973-635-4275 or email us at email@example.com to discuss how we can help meet your financial goals. To learn more about our products and team, visit us at www.chathamwealth.com.