NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ-  The New Providence High School Pioneers girls varsity basketball team honored their 2017-18 senior players before taking to the floor for their game against their crosstown rival, the Governor Livingston High School Highlanders.

Seniors Elizabeth Parker and Iris Kaloshi were recognized prior to the game for their hard work and dedication over their high school basketball careers with the New Providence Pioneers.

“It’s been my pleasure. They’re both fantastic people,” New Providence head coach Cap Pazdera said. “What they bring to this program, their leadership, their attitude, their positivity [and] how they cheer on the other girls and support them, they are what you want your seniors to be, good role models, great leaders, good friends, great teammates.”

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Both seniors took photos with their families right along the area near half-court and were cheered on by their teammates when introduced.

The pair reflected upon their experiences within the program.

In their four-year careers, Parker and Kaloshi both saw varsity time going back to their freshman year, in the 2014-15 season.

They both scored four points in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 First Round against North Arlington HS, won by New Providence by a final score of 56-25.

In that season, the Pioneers girls basketball team finished with a 22-10 record, featuring a trip to the 2015 NJSIAA Tournament of Champions. The Pioneers, that season, won the 2015 NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 sectional championship with a 50-45 win over Shabazz HS.

They would add a second achievement to that unforgettable run, a 32-30 win over Haddon Township, winning the 2015 NJSIAA Group 1 State Championship.

“It’s unbelievable to be able to experience something like this with my team,” Parker said.

“It was very fun,” Kaloshi said. “I love them to death, they’re the best team to be around. I just really enjoyed basketball to have fun with.”

For Kaloshi, while she loved playing with her teammates, it was about her coaches and working with them.

“Our coaches are amazing, they’re amazing people,” Kaloshi said. “They made us all better people too. Basketball is not my number one sport, but I play just to be with everyone and experience all the vibes. They’re just great people to be around and it’s just a lot of fun.”

Parker missed time during her senior year due to injury but says being with her teammates always kept her positive and working hard to getting back on the floor.

“It doesn’t really matter, because just being with my girls meant the world,” Parker said. “They always kept my spirits up and we kept working so incredibly hard, so it’s nice to show our hard work on the court to represent our school.”

They reached the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 Semifinals their sophomore and junior seasons, successes the girls soaked in along their journey. Although missing the state tournament, both girls are optimistic for their teammates who will take over the leadership roles.

“I really hope they take our tenacity, our hard work and our high spirits,” Parker said, “because I have been injured all season, so the ability to keep a tough, bright mind and keep up the spirits the entire season and pushing through to be able to play on my Senior Day.”

“I hope they can take that because if they experience a tough loss or something, they can use that as motivation to keep working hard and fight the next game and hopefully get a win,” she added.

In the game that followed, kicking off the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign, Kaloshi scored 11 points, while Parker had three points. The New Providence Pioneers came up short against their crosstown rival, the Governor Livingston Highlanders, 56-51 in double overtime.

Related article: Girls Basketball: Gov. Livingston Highlanders Outlasts New Providence in Double Overtime Battle