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Prove the doubters wrong

  • ConVal hoops captains Natalia Hautanen, Lindsey Carey and Kalbie Grassett are ready to prove the doubters wrong this season. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team scrimmaged Trinity on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team scrimmaged Trinity on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team scrimmaged Trinity on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • ConVal’s Emma Hixson gets fouled as she goes up for a shot during a scrimmage against Trinity on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team scrimmaged Trinity on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team scrimmaged Trinity on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team scrimmaged Trinity on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal girls' basketball team scrimmaged Trinity on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The ConVal girls’ basketball team is looking to give opponents a rude awakening this season.

“A lot of teams are expecting us to be terrible,” said senior captain Kalbie Grassett after a scrimmage earlier this week.

And perhaps that’s with good reason. The Cougars went 2-16 last year and continued their playoff drought, having not been to the postseason since 2008-09. But now, they’ve got a new coach, a new chemistry and a will to win.

“I think that our intensity level has definitely increased from the past couple of years, and we’re working really hard to improve, and we’re really committed which should really help us in the long run this season,” said senior captain Natalia Hautanen. “It feels like as a team we are more invested in winning.”

In fact, junior captain and last year’s scoring leader Lindsey Carey said “there was an immediate sense of team chemistry, positive energy and intensity” the moment the Cougars stepped onto the floor for their first tryout.

“I think it was because we didn’t like losing so much last year that we came out with so much intensity to start this year,” Grassett said.

And with the season starting Friday night, first-year head coach Kevin Proctor is looking to keep that spirit alive.

Proctor, who coached the boys’ team for the past four years as they snapped a playoff drought of their own in 2015, took over the girls’ program this offseason. He hopes his Cougars can translate their hard work into wins this year and prove they don’t belong in the basement of Division II.

“You’ve got to earn respect,” Proctor said. “I know they worked hard last year, and the record didn’t reflect what they would have liked to get out of their season. So I think in a way it’s a nice ace to have in the back pocket going into the season when people kind of look past you sometimes. I kind of like that.

“I think we can surprise some people just based on how competitive we can be defensively. I don’t think this is a team anyone should look past.”

Proctor and the girls have already taken a few road trips out to scrimmages on the seacoast around the state, long bus rides that lead to early-season team bonding. Aside from the pre-season wins over teams like Trinity and Epping, the Cougars have gained something invaluable: chemistry.

“I think the kids like each other, which is really important,” Proctor said. “If your team works hard, they like each other, that’s all you can ask for. You can do a lot with that.”

ConVal certainly has the pieces in place to improve their reputation statewide. Carey can do just about anything on the court; Grassett is an experienced ballhandler and Hautanen plays under the hoop like a baby Barkley, rebounding and getting on the floor if the situation calls for it.

Throw lanky wings Rachyl Parslow and Emma Hixson into the mix and you’ve got the makings of a squad to be reckoned with.

Sarah Dauphinais and Kalli Taylor can spell Grassett at point, Molly Cole is a blue-collar type under the boards as well, and volleyball recruit Riley Codman, while raw, is 6’2” and shows signs of being a force in the paint on defense.

ConVal opens up the regular season at Monadnock (2-0) on Friday at 7 p.m., hoping to spoil the defending Division III champions’ banner-raising ceremony.

“They're going to be a good litmus test for us,” Proctor said. “No matter what happens on Friday night, how we compete with them is going to be really important, win or lose, how we handle ourselves on Friday is going to set the stage for us moving forward.”

Carey said a playoff appearance is the goal this year. Whether or not that dream comes true, the Cougars have taken a step in the right direction.

“I think we're already starting to prove the doubters wrong,” Hautanen said.