As she stood at midcourt Saturday evening with confetti dangling from her neck, a trophy cradled in her arms, and a world of cameras pinned at her, Grace Stone sang a fitting song — and she sang it loud.
If Stone’s basketball career were an album, “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang would likely be its title track.
With Princeton's 54-48 win over Harvard on her home court Saturday, Stone, a native of Glen Cove and a four-year starter at Princeton, has now won three Ivy League championships. In high school she won a state championship with Long Island Lutheran during the 2014-15 season and was named first-team All-Long Island each of the three years she was captain.
“I’m a Long Island girl through and through,” Stone said before drawing attention to her high school days under coach Rich Slater. “Coach Slater taught me how to be a great leader; he taught me all the little things, the intangibles that I had to do to get to this point. I think that made me a winner — it made me a leader — and I can’t thank him enough.”
Stone, a 5-11 guard, led Princeton with five blocks and six assists on Saturday. In the postgame news conference, Stone’s teammates recognized her impact.
“She stretches the floor really well,” junior Ellie Mitchell said. “They have to respect her shot . . . That opens up opportunities for the rest of the team.”
Stone ranks third in both points and assists this season for Princeton.
“Grace is awesome,” said teammate Kaitlyn Chen, the 2023 Ivy League Player of the Year and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
But for all her offensive success, Chen also credited Stone with her tough defensive assignment on Saturday against Harvard’s McKenzie Forbes, who scored 27 against Columbia in the semifinal and was named to the All-Tournament team.
Princeton coach Carla Berube agreed with Chen.
“She’s a glue on both ends,” Berube said. “[She’s] always talking, makes up for mistakes for others on the court.”
Stone’s brothers, after posing in photos with her postgame, agreed. “It was a defensive master class,” Gabe Stone said before Micah finished his older brother’s sentence: “Love to see it.”
“It’s been the greatest honor of my life,” Stone said of playing for the Tigers and bringing home another championship. “And to be able to do it [at home] — to have my last two games be here — it’s all you can really ask for.”
Stone is hoping there will be a few more games as Princeton looks ahead to its trip to March Madness.
“Anything could happen in March. No matter where we end up, no matter who we’re playing, we’re going to try to bring our best,” Stone said. “And I think that our best is really, really good.”