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Newcomers Lead Woodsville Girls

  • Woodsville’s Morgan Wagstaff, right, guards Gorham’s Delaney Holmes tightly in the fourth quarter of their game in Woodsville, N.H., on Dec. 5, 2017. Woodville won, 63-39. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodsville head coach Russell Wilcox talks to his team at halftime of their game against Gorham in Woodsville, N.H., on Dec. 5, 2017. Woodsville won, 63-39. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodsville freshman Morgan Wagstaff takes aim for a free throw in the third quarter of their game against Gorham in Woodsville, N.H., on Dec. 5, 2017. Woodville won, 63-39. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodsville’s McKenzie Dennis puts up a shot against Gorham’s Maddie Rivard in the third quarter of their game in Woodsville, N.H., on Dec. 5, 2017. Woodville won, 63-39. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Woodsville — It appears a freshman renaissance is in order this season for the Woodsville High girls basketball team.

Three rookies combined for more than half of Woodsville’s points — and made plenty of other contributions — during the Engineers’ 63-39 win over Gorham on Tuesday night at John Bagonzi Community Center.

Fresh off of a 15-point debut on Friday against Profile, outside shooter Morgan Wagstaff had 12 against the Huskies. Olivia Sarkis scored 10 and Emily Prest added nine to go with a handful of assists and steals for Woodsville (2-0), which extended a decade-old winning streak over Gorham to 18 games.

Engineers senior forward Lily Kinder had a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds, and Gorham’s Karly Cordwell scored 16 in the Huskies’ season opener.

Quarterfinal victims to undefeated Sunapee each of the last two seasons, Woodsville’s influx of youth could help it take the next step this season. The newcomers’ speed and athleticism has been enough for coach Russell Wilcox to install more run-oriented sets.

“(Wagstaff) has as good a 3-point shot as anyone I’ve coached, (Prest) is going to be a great point guard when she figures it all out and Olivia plays fast and plays hard,” Wilcox said. “They take after the seniors on the team and want to learn as much as they can.”

It was a slow start for Woodsville, which faced deficits of 11-6 and 13-8 in the first quarter. Woodsville found its rhythm in a big way from there, Prest’s 3 at the end of the period sparking a 23-0 run. Wagstaff scored all of her eight first-half points during the rally, displaying smooth form on a pair of swishes from downtown.

“I’ve been working a lot on my shot,” said Wagstaff, who played AAU hoops with the Newbury, Vt.-based Twin State Lady Panthers. “I didn’t think I’d be playing as much as I am as a freshman, but I definitely wanted to be able to contribute this year.”

Prest and Sarkis have also been mildly surprised at the amount of time spent on the court so far, but their skills make it hard to keep them on the bench. All three were on the floor during a dominant third-quarter Woodsville spurt after the Huskies had pulled within 32-25.

After a timeout, Woodsville fully utilized its speed for the first time during a 12-2 run to build a 44-27 advantage. Molly Clough drilled an outside jumper from the top of the key and drew a foul on a layup during the sequence.

“Molly is such a great leader. At one point she told everyone, ‘Just calm down, and give me the ball,’ which is a polite way of saying, ‘Give me the darn ball,’ ” Wilcox said.

Wagstaff sank another 3 and Kinder had two baskets during the rally, including a baseline layup on a spot-on feed from Prest. Prest and Wagstaff also had steals.

“I think the freshmen this season are going to give us a lot of depth,” said Kinder, who averaged 13.5 points per game as Woodsville’s top scorer a year ago. “They’re athletic, but they also work hard and see the floor really well. For the last two years, we’ve been working a lot on drills to push the ball up the floor. They’re definitely going to help us do that.”

Sarkis pulled down five of her seven rebounds in the second half and earned some tough points late, charging to the basket for a pair to make it 55-34 and converting another dish from Prest.

“You could tell during the soccer season this year, too, that she definitely wants it,” Kinder said of Sarkis.

Kinder and Clough weren’t shy to acknowledge a strong desire to get past the second round this year, and Wilcox said a championship is the goal every season.

The Engineers are still learning each other’s tendencies and need to display better fundamentals and execution in the opponents’ end.

“We still need to find our legs on defense,” Clough said.

Free Throws: Woodsville assistant Steve Colby led Monday’s practice for Wilcox, who was in transit following a recent trip to Tennessee to hike and visit friends with his daughter, Dylan. Dylan Wilcox completed the Appalachian Trail with her dad at age 11 in 2015. … Gorham’s last win over Woodsville came 10 years ago this week, 40-31 in Gorham on Dec. 7, 2007. Three of Woodsville’s wins during the 18-game streak have come by two possessions or one, including a 33-31 victory last January thanks to Courtney Derrington’s putback with 0.8 seconds left in regulation. … Gorham’s Alexis Kruskie and Woodsville’s Eliza Cowell both left the game with injuries in the second half and did not return.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.