Neighborhood House Charter High School girls basketball team is undefeated
Banner Sports sponsored by Cruz Companies
As we journey deeper into this basketball season, it’s time to acknowledge one of the few remaining unbeaten teams in the women’s high school ranks, and one of its major stars.
The Neighborhood House Charter High School team from Dorchester is the undefeated squad, and its star is Alicia Browder, one of the top female players in Massachusetts high school basketball.
Browder is sporting a 19.2 scoring average, with over six rebounds and two-plus blocked shots a game for the 15-0 Lady Legends. The 5-foot-9 senior center forward has drawn the attention of college coaches.
And she’s not the only star on this Legends team.
Karin Richardson, a 5-foot-3 sophomore point guard, features a 17.8-point scoring average and seven assists a game. She has one the best “handles” seen in a freshman or sophomore in some time. A floor leader blessed with exceptional scoring ability, Richardson has been a starter since eighth grade. With 700 points already scored, she is expected to go over the cherished 1,000-point plateau sometime next season.
Another key contributor is 5-foot-6 senior co-captain Danielle Cox, who also has a 4.1 grade point average — the highest on a team of high achievers.
Cox is looking at schools like M.I.T. for college studies. Browder is focusing on becoming a mechanical engineer. And if that means giving up basketball to get to the right college to pursue her dream, she’ll accept the sacrifice.
Seven-year head coach Charlene Fernandes beams with pride when discussing her players, especially Browder. “I have had Alicia since she came to me in seventh grade. I quickly recognized her leadership qualities and wanted to make her a team captain early on. But she said, ‘I’m not ready for that responsibility, Coach.’ A year later, she was ready ,and has been a captain ever since.”
Browder and teammate Cox challenge each other in the classroom and on the court. “They are best friends whose healthy competitive natures create an amazing locker room presence,” says Scott Urban, who built the Legends basketball program and hired coach Fernandes to run it.
“It is a successful program that we are very proud of, especially when one considers that we spent 25 years as a charter middle school before moving up to the high school level just seven years ago,” he said.
Coach Fernandes remembers the painful early years of her team getting spanked by bigger and more experienced teams. “I was a new coach when I met Alicia. She believed in me, and I believed in her. We have been through so much together.”
In seven years, the school went from a 0-18 record to 15-0 and being ranked 18th among Massachusetts charter schools. The team holds a number one seed headed into the upcoming state playoffs.
“When I look back at the hard road we traveled to get where we are today, it makes me tear up,” says the fiery young coach of her all-African American squad.
“If you come to our game, you will see our players doing homework while sitting in the stands and cheering on our young men’s team,” she says. “That’s the kind of team spirit we have at the Neighborhood House Charter School.”
The future looks bright, with just two seniors (co-captains Browder and Cox) on this year’s Lady Legends team.
“This team is built on effort, drive and heart,” says Fernandes. “Everyone affiliated with this school knows of the long road it took to get us where we are today. We are determined to keep moving forward.”