Local girls basketball teams prepare for openers
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Just two of the four region girls basketball teams made it to the playoffs last year and neither advanced past the opening round.
But there are high hopes in all four camps this preseason with the 2012-13 campaign about to tip-off. Each squad will bring back at least two starters and a few role players in an effort to improve upon last year’s finish.
The season officially begins on Friday when WLC and Mascenic travel for its season openers. Conant hosts Campbell on Tuesday and ConVal travels to Windham on Dec. 7.
Despite only having eight girls try out and no junior varsity team, the Orioles look like a team that could contend in Division III. Conant returns three starters from last year’s team and likely have the best freshman in all of D-III.
“I’m going to move forward with these eight and hopefully we’ll contend for another state title,” said coach Nick Hill.
Senior Teresa DiTommaso will return to the front line with junior Heather Bilodeau sliding into the starting rotation and senior Margaret Maloy brings versatility to the guard position.
Freshman Madison Springfield will command a lot of attention this year as teams are well aware of her abilities since she dominated as an eighth grader at the JV level. Springfield is five feet, 11 inches tall, can run the floor and is athletic.
Sophomore Katie Chadbourne will return to play the point guard position and freshman Sarah Gonsalves, who also played JV in eighth grade, will be a big presence down low off the bench.
The Orioles are built to match-up with just about any team.
“We’re athletic, we’ve got height and speed if we need it,” said Hill. “I like having different looks. We can go with a smaller, quicker lineup or we can go big.”
The Cougars return three starters from last year’s team, but will still be young with just two seniors.
It is the second season for coach Brian Pickering and the Cougars are much further along than they were at this point a year ago. And with the season under their belts, plus a summer program, Pickering believes ConVal will be a better team in 2012-13.
“There’s a deeper understanding of what we want to get done,” said Pickering.
Led by senior guard Marena Brock, senior forward Lauren Mackey and junior guard Jess Nerz, the Cougars have a solid nucleus. Brock will run the point, while Mackey will do anything asked of her. Nerz is the Cougars’ best scorer and will be counted on to help pace the offense. Juniors Emma-Sae Hallen and Ayohnny Guy-Scott will help down low. Sophomores Lilly Smith and Megan Buydos have greatly improved to move into the rotation.
Once again it will all start on the defensive end for the Cougars. Pickering puts a lot of emphasis on that facet of the game and expects his club to be consistent on that end of the floor.
“When we were playing our best last year, even games we lost, we were really stingy on defense,” said Pickering.
The Warriors return all but two players from last year’s team and should be much improved.
Without a go-to scorer, WLC will rely on everybody to help on offense. And there is plenty to choose from, as coach Dennis Claire will use up to nine players in every game.
“Everybody’s got to chip in,” said Claire. “And it makes it tougher for teams to guard us.”
WLC is always aggressive on defense and this year will be no different. The biggest improvement needed over last year is in the rebounding department, where the Warriors allowing opponents too many chances. The hope is that the pressure on defense will lead to some easy transition baskets.
“We’re scrappy,” said Claire. “And if we play good defense, we should be in every game.”
Seniors Deanna Davidson and Andrea Heck will be mainstays at the forward/center positions, as will sophomore Jenna Bragdon. Junior Sami Bosquet will run the point once again, while freshman Ally Schwab could contribute immediately in the back court.
The Vikings have not won a game since the 2006-07 season, but the plan is to change that in 2012-13.
Wiley Billings, who served as JV coach last year, takes over the program that went 0-18 and lost 17 of those games by double digits. Yet there is a reason to be excited for Vikings fans with the entire starting five back. It will not be an immediate turnaround for the Vikings, but the goal is to improve each game and put a mark in the win column.
“We’re going to win some games,” said Billings. “I think you’ll see a vast improvement.”
With senior Erin Scollons and junior Cheyanne Sauvola playing down low, the Vikings have an advantage over many teams. Senior Jocelyn Ojala will handle the point guard duties, while juniors Elizabeth Martel and Sarah Sharp fill out the starting five.
“For us to be competitive, we’re going to have to play good defense,” said Billings “It’s going to be a process, but if teams are going to beat us, they’re going to earn it.”