Another season to test the BG girls hoop mojo
It begins later this week – Thursday to be exact – and likely stretches all the way through the first week of March.
And the chances are pretty good – certainly not 100 percent, mind you – that it will end with the raising of another Division I title plaque in front of an adoring crowd.
The local phenonomon that is Bishop Guertin High School girls basketball.
Now, let’s not get carried away. It’s not like this Cardinal program is comparable to the Nashua/John Fagula dynasty of national fame back in the 1980s that continued into the 1990s and was carried on by others into the early 2000’s, ended by The Split.
But the Cardinals have been a factor in Division I since 2012, winning four titles in seven years, appearing in five finals.
But since former assistant Brad Kreick took over in May of 2015, Guertin has known nothing but championships, winning three straight while enhancing a rivalry with Bedford into something somewhat historic.
So is this something sustainable? Well, you’d have to think at least for the next couple of years. Guertin lost just one senior and has just two this year.
Is it just this group? Or is this a culture that has begun and will last as long as Kreick remains the head guy? Guertin had 40 kids come out, will have three full teams (varsity, JV, freshman), and about a half dozen freshmen will be playing JV. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop anytime soon.
“The one thing is we’ve been able to build a culture,” Kreick said. “If anything, we try to be really clear what the program is all about.”
Was this his vision?
“I’m not sure,” he said. “My vision was not so much about winning three state championships in that time.What I told Pete (athletic director Paladino) and the administration what Iwanted to do wa guild a program, build a culture that would be sustainable.
“That vision is being realized. The championships are a by-product of doing something the right way.”
You might think that Kreick is part of the age of specialization, the one-sport athlete. But remember, he was a famed hockey player at Nashua and at Brown, and it was funny one day during the soccer season in the fall of 2015 when he would get out the folding chair at Elliott Field and watch a game.
“Brad, how many kids you have on this team,” he was asked. “Eight,” came the reply as laughter ensued.
But his current group,they mainly live, eat, breathe the sport.
“I don’t think it’s a trend, it’s just the way with this particular group,” Kreick said. “I’m certainly a huge advocate of multi-sport kids.”
And he’ll have some more. Remember, too, this is a more relaxed time for the NHIAA rules of off-season workouts. There’s the summer league play but also open gyms for players to work out during the fall. But the fact that 19 freshmen came out this year shows that success can breed success.
And yes, that kind of winning leads to transfers for a private school, any private school. Two are on this year’s roster.
“But I don’t think kids come here based purely on the basketball program,” Kreick said.
No, but it certainly has to be an attraction. How could it not? Kreick has run a solid program, and kids don’t really sit the bench, they all seem to get their time as he substitutes in waves. Maybe (tongue in cheek) it’s that hockey mentality.
He’s also believed in a tough schedule. His players don’t get much out of blowing past a team by 30-35 points, two out of every three games. So the Cardinals gambled a year ago, loading up on tough out-of-state teams. The result was a 13-5 record, a loss of a first-round bye and having to face a very good Merrimack team on the road in the quarterfinals. Didn’t matter.
Hey, we’re getting used to dynasties in girls sports. Hollis Brookline in volleyball now owns four straight titles. So, as we move on to winter, here we go again. Nothing is a given – like we said, this isn’t like the old Nashua days. The Cards are deep and talented, but there are other good teams – Pinkerton, Bedford, etc. The hope is playing teams like Braintree (Mass.) and James-Dewitt (N.Y.) will help them handle those teams.
Again, there’s no magic formula. “The philosophy hasn’t changed,” Kreick said.
No, it’s a philosophy that produces good basketball, often entertaining, and almost always winning. You see big games like last year’s tussle at Bedford in mid-January and this year’s meeting a week from Friday.
For the local fan, success has its perks.
Nothing wrong with that, right?
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251,firstname.lastname@example.org, or@Telegraph _TomK.