By Josh Lashley

— If a coach could dream up what an ideal team captain would be like, attributes such as commitment, leadership abilities, confidence and the willingness to work well with others come to mind.

Well, at least in some respects, this season could be a deemed a dream come true for Catherine Wille, the head coach for the Sparta High School girl’s basketball program. That’s because the Spartans have three captains-Jackie Dowd, Emily Lake and Paige Smith, who contribute a great deal to the sport. Dowd and Lake are seniors, and Smith is a junior.

“All three of these young ladies do an excellent job of leading by example,’’ Wille said. “They work on and off the court diligently in their studies, give 100% effort in each practice and game, work to create a positive team atmosphere and team chemistry and are excellent liaisons between the coaching staff and the players. All three of these players are extremely unselfish and it shows on and off the court.

“All three of these captains add their own mark on the game. None of them are premier point scorers, they are assigned things that stats are not kept on such as defending the toughest player on the opponents team, taking offensive charges, getting a clutch steal or rebound, or stopping the opponent from scoring by stepping up on help-side defense.’’

Dowd, Lake and Smith are doing their part to help guide their teammates in a positive and productive manner. Wille makes note that each captain is a solid student.

“All three of these players have upped their intensity and desire to excel, which has spread to our other players,’’ Wille said. “They model what we want student-athletes to do. They work as hard on the court as they do off the court. They are great with time management, self motivation and demonstrate all of these on a regular basis. I do know that all of them are at the top 1/4 of their grades for GPA.’’

In games played through January 20, the Spartans had an overall record of 6-5 and they were 2-1 in the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference American Division. They are scheduled to start February with a home game versus Mendham on the second day of the month.

“Erin Walsh and Emily Dilger have been two forces for us in the post,’’ Wille said. “They often combine for most of our points. Brianna Falco is our point guard and she has really done a fantastic job running the team at the helm.’’