Local girls hoop: Cardinals begin the drive for five
NASHUA – The Drive for Five begins.
But don’t be mistaken, the four-time Division I Bishop Guertin High School girls basketball team is quietly going about its business.
It’s lost two to prep school transfers from a core that helped carry the Cardinals to their last three crowns, but four key members of that core are back, including Telegraph Player of the Year senior guard Erin Carney.
But Cards head coach Brad Kreick, who knows nothing but championships as a head coach, wants his team to have a short memory.
In other words, different team, different year.
“Our mantra from Day One is we’re hitting the reset button,” Kreick said. “Nobody cares about the last three years.”
Kreick has that nucleus of returnees but has a freshmen group that he quietly beams about. But, as he notes, they are freshmen, and will learn from the core returnees.
“They came into tryouts,” he said regarding his seniors, “in as good physical condition as they have in the four years. …”As always, the keys to our success will be our commitment on the defensive side of the ball and ability to play an up tempo, full court style.”
The challengers will be the usual suspects – Pinkerton, Bedford, Manchester Memorial, and Kreick is looking for a local challenge from a team that brings back a lot in Nashua South. And don’t discount Alvirne, which has 11 returning players
It’s a bit of a new season for coaches too. Nashua North (Curt Dutilley) and South (John Bourgeois) have new coaches, as does Merrimack. Tomahawks athletic director Mike Soucy, former longtime Hollis Brookline boys hoop coach, is taking over on an interim basis with a team that gained valuable varsity experience last year.
“It’s exciting for me to be back on the sideline and more importantly to be working with a group of kids for a couple of hours each day,” Soucy said.
In Division II, Mike Davidson is now guiding Milford, looking to change the culture for a struggling program which still doesn’t have the numbers for a junior varsity team. Souhegan hopes to get into the tourney after rebuilding last year, and then there’s Hollis Brookline, which won 13 games a year after winning the title, and returns a stellar point guard in senior Christina Balsamo.
Here’s a capsule look at the local Division I and II teams as a few open up tonight and tomorrow, while the rest start won’t start their seasons until next week:
COACH: Chris Cheetham (third year).
LAST SEASON: 4-14, did not qualify for tournament.
RETURNING STARTERS: Sara Ruigrok, 5-11 sr. forward; Hadara Ochieng, 5-10 sophomore forward; Ellie Ochieng, 5-8 senior guard-forward; Grace Hodgdon, 5-3 senior guard; Ella Davis, 5-7 junior guard.
OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Kailiana Secchioroli, 5-9 jr. forward; Jess O’Connor, 5-4 jr. guard; Abby Dubois, 5-4 sr. guard; Maddy Nicolosi, 5-4 so.guard; Alyssa Anderson, 5-8 sr. forward; Mikala Picanco, 5-10 jr. forward.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Paige McKinley, 5-5 guard.
COACH’S COMMENTS: “This is an experienced team,” Cheetham said. “We have a smart group of players who have experienced a lot of adversity over the last two seasons. This year we expect to compete every night and make great strides forward.”
COACH: Brad Kreick (fifth year).
LAST SEASON: 21-0, won Division I title.
RETURNING STARTERS: Erin Carney, 5-5 sr. guard; Hanna Muchemore, 5-7 sr. guard; Bri Wilcox, 5-9 sr. guard; Addison Smith, 6-0 sr. forward; Aria O’Connell, 5-7 sr. guard.
OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Brenna Paquette, 5-7 sr. guard; Maddy Bowen, 5-8 so.forward.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Meghan Stack, 6-0 fr. forward-center; Catelyn Wheeler, 5-10 fr.forward; Maizie Barker, 5-3 fr.guard; Brooke Paquette, 5-7 fr.guard.
COACH’S COMMENTS: “We return the cored of last year’s state title team,” Kreick said, “and we’ll rely on them heavily to carry the load as we develop a talented group of underclassmen.”
COACH: Mike Soucy (first year).
LAST SEASON: 9-9, lost to Portsmouth in preliminary round.
RETURNING STARTERS: Samantha Page,5-9 sr.forward; Heather Rohr, 5-11 sr. forward; Riley Crampton,5-7 sr. guard; Makenna Desfosses, 5-6 sr. guard-forward; Theresa Twardosky, 5-7 jr. guard.
OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Ellie Boucher,5-6 senior guard-forward; Gillian Waller, 5-9 jr. guard-forward; Olivia Cote,5-11 jr. guard-forward; Emma Valluzzi,5-7 so. Guard; Shannon Sadhwani,5-6 so.guard; Lilli Dabilis 5-6 sr. guard.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Sydney Bissonnette, Keira Bike.
COACH’S COMMENTS: “The team has a lot of returning skilled players, so it will be interesting to see how they adjust to a new coach, terminology and system,” Soucy said. “How we come together as a team will determine the success we have this season.”
COACH: Curt Dutilley (first year)
LAST SEASON: 5-13, lost to Bedford in preliminary round.
RETURNING STARTERS: No full time starters back.
OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Bianca Gershgorin, 5-3 sr. guard; Jordyn Choate, 5-9 jr. forward; Lilly Brooks, 5-9 jr. guard; Kaitlyn Laurendi, 5-4 jr. guard; Olivia Mazerolle, 5-8 so.guard.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Victoria Conrad, 6-4 jr. center; Aliana Mercado, 5-7 jr. guard; Natalie Burgess, 5-7 so.forward.
COACH’S COMMENTS: “We’re a high energy, quick team with a good inside presence as well,” Dutilley said. “With only two players returning with any starting experience, we hope to mature quickly and develop into a well-rounded team that competes well against eery team in the division. I’m excited about the potential of this group.”
COACH: John Bourgeois (first year).
LAST SEASON: 6-12, lost to Manchester Memorial in first round.
RETURNING STARTERS: Kirsten McIntire, 6-0 sr. forwad; Catherine Covert, 5-8 sr. forward; Aryanna Murray, 5-7 jr. guard.
OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Bailey Morin, 5-5 sr. forward; Maya Rioux, 5-4 jr. guard; Iruka Obinelo, 5-9 jr. forward; Julianna Martin, 5-6 jr. guard; Jordan Rioux, 5-2 so. Guard.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Still to be determined.
COACH’S COMMENTS: “Our goal is to compete constantly on a weekly basis,” Bourgeois said. “We believe that if we all buy in to the process, our chances of earning a spot in the playoffs and making a run are high.”
COACH: Bob Murphy (11th year)
LAST SEASON: 14-6, lost to Hanover in quarterfinals.
RETURNING STARTERS: Christina Balsamo, 5-7 sr. guard; Elizabeth Bonnette,5-10 sr. guard-forward, Amanda Goclowski, sr. 5-11 forward.
OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Elisabeth Stapelfeld,5-6 so. guard; Maggie Crooks, 5-8 so.forward.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Cheyenne Colbert, 5-10 fr.forward; Amanda Robbins,5-7 so.guard; Samantha Atlas, 5-5 jr.guard.
COACH’S COMMENTS: “We have some very good internal competition in the guard and forward positions that will make us deeper than last year,” Murphy said. “We’re looking to get back to SNHU again and go as deep as we can (in the postseason).”
COACH: Mike Davidson (first year)
LAST SEASON: 2-16, did not qualify for tournament.
RETURNING STARTERS: Sarah Dobbs, 5-10 jr. forward; Jessie Gendron, 5-5 jr. guard; Leslie MacGrath, 5-9 jr. forward; Alexa Wilder, 5-6 jr. guard.
OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: None.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Valerie Okoro, 6-1 jr. forward; Bailey Johnson, 5-9 fr. forward; Leah St. John, 5-5 fr. guard; Carla Rodriguez, 5-8 so. Forward; Allysa Godlewski, 5-7 so.forward; Kate Hansen, 5-7 so.forward; Addison Hopkins, 5-6 fr. guard; Alena Letendre, 5-6 fr. guard.
COACH’S COMMENTS: “The players have set some realistic goals designed to change the culture of girls basketball at Milford,” Davidson said. “New coach. New attitude. Our focus is to get better every day.”
COACH: Michael Vetack (second year).
LAST SEASON: 6-12, did not qualify for tournament.
RETURNING STARTERS: Devon McGrath, sr. guard-forward; Susie Watson, sr. guard; Halle VanBallegooyen, sr. forward; Hunter Stonebraker, jr. forward.
OTHER RUTURNING LETTER WINNERS: Aidyn Noorda, sr. guard-forward; Sabra Biddle, so.forward; Caitlin Cooper, so.forward.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Katie Canavan, fr.guard; Hadley Corcoran, fr. guard.
COACH’S COMMENTS: “Our team is practicing and playing with some hunger,” Vetack said. “We are going to be an aggressive team that won’t make it easy for anyone. We have plenty to work on but are eager to get after it every day and night this winter.”