MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The Columbia High School Cougars varsity girls basketball family has two more reasons to be proud of their undefeated squad: the 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.

Being named the Essex County Team of the Year was earned by their successful season: Columbia was undefeated 13-0, including a 12-0 mark while going on to win the SEC-Liberty Division title.

“The Columbia High School community couldn't be prouder of these young women,” shared CHS Principal, Frank Sanchez. Principal Sanchez continued, “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.”

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While the team played a modified schedule, playing half the number of games they normally do, the 2020-2021 season proved to be one of their best winning seasons since 2013-2014. The team was comprised of four sophomores and two freshmen among the first eight players to usually see the floor, led by seniors Corteney Provilon-Louis and Kaijha Hall.

Coach Chuck 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.

In a year marked by Covid-related challenges, there was no county or state tournament title to shoot for, however, the Girls varsity team 2020-2021 season was one for the books. Members of the 2020-2021 Cougars Girls Varsity team include: 0 Corteney Provilon-Louis (Sr); 1 Talia Baptiste (Fr); 2 Samiya Hill (So); 5 Kaijhe Hall (Sr); 13 Bella Galatt (So); 15 Sophia Rounsavil (Sr); 21 Allie Harris (So); 22 Annabel Callahan (Sr); 24 Reyniyah Rogers-Carter (Sr); 34 Zahra Alexander (Fr) and 35 Shana Desir (So).

“We are so proud of this team and Coach Keegan and his staff,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ronald G. Taylor, “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 all the way to county and state tournament next year.”

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