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Teams Raring to Return to the Hardwood

Mascoma’s Erin Tevere dribbles the ball against Inter-Lakes last week. The Royals reached the New Hampshire Division III quarterfinals last season. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Mascoma’s Erin Tevere dribbles the ball against Inter-Lakes last week. The Royals reached the New Hampshire Division III quarterfinals last season. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

With the winter season officially upon us, the best place to get a front row seat for all the action is your area gymnasiums.

Last year, Oxbow and Hartford claimed state titles. Who will be this season’s Cinderella?

Here’s a quick overview of the 17 Upper Valley girls teams hitting the hardwood this year:

Hanover

Coach: Dan O’Rourke (12).

League: New Hampshire Division II.

Last Year: 11-11, lost in first round of tournament.

Who’s Back: Senior — Safiya Walker (C, capt.). Juniors — Eileen Daley (G), Erica Hinck (G), Liesel Robbins (C), Molly Cornell (F), Holly Schlosser (F). Sophomores — JJ Daniell (G), Christine Croituro (G), Mily Oseid (F).

Who’s New: Junior — Cathleen Beliveau (C). Freshman — Lexie Hamilton (G).

Who’s Gone: The Marauders lost their two top scorers, forward Kate Gautier and guard Asie Makarova, to graduation. Junior Hannah Seibel didn’t return.

Team Strengths: “This is a great group of kids; they get along very well,” O’Rourke said. “The camaraderie is sensational. They come to practice every day and work hard. They’re going to get better.”

Team Weaknesses: Hanover concentrated on improving a weak offense in the preseason. It showed improvement in a season-opening loss to Hollis-Brookline, but defense and rebounding were issues.

Players to Watch: 1. Lexie Hamilton. The freshman arrived in a whirlwind of points and assists, scoring 16 and dishing out 10 in a promise of big things to come. O’Rourke: “She gets the team involved. She moves the ball well.” 2 and 3. Guards Erica Hinck and JJ Daniell. With Hamilton, Hanover will have plenty of perimeter shooting options while trying to develop a low-post game.

Toughest Foes: Lebanon, Windham, Merrimack Valley, Coe-Brown, Goffstown, Portsmouth.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “Our goal is to get better every game, and hopefully once the tournament comes, it’s a new season. I think we’ll be in the mix. I have every expectation that we’ll continue to improve, and we’ll see what happens.”

Hartford

Coach: Ed Kehoe (1).

League: Vermont Division II, Marble Valley League-B.

Last Year: 19-5, won program’s first state championship.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Kelsey Kehoe (F/C), Stephanie Grobe (G), Devon Day (G), Jess Barnum (G). Juniors — Karianna Willette (F), Taylor Johnson (G). Sophomore — Heather Illingworth (F), Karla Medina (G), Colby Frechette (G).

Who’s New: Senior — Amy Koh (G). Junior — Allison Courtemanche (G), Hanna Hausler (F). Sophomore — Chelsea Dow (G).

Strengths: Speed, work ethic, defense.

Weaknesses: Lack of size, inconsistent shooting.

Players to Watch: Kehoe, Grobe.

Toughest Opponents: Fair Haven, Windsor, Rutland, Mount Abraham.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “We’re off to a good start; our work rate is good. It’s going to be a season of matchups for us and be about who can handle the pressure.”

Kearsarge

Coach: Kurt McCandless (1).

League: New Hampshire Division III.

Last Year: 15-5. lost to Souhegan in Division II finals.

Who’s Back: Junior — Anna Cahill.

Who’s New: Juniors — Molly Jenna, Erica Balogna, Katie Lindh. Sophomores — Elexiz Bryk, Morgan Johnson. Freshmen — Eleanor Angus, Syd Bryk, Maggie Stockwell.

Who’s Gone: Margaret Doheny, Brittany Paige, Katie Lévesque, Molly Giles, Morgan Church, Ahenly Eliza.

Players to Watch: “Anna Cahill is top notch. One of the best point guards in the division,” says McCandless.

Strengths: “We’re young and athletic,” says McCandless. “We will be playing up-tempo and defensively we’re going to get better.

Weaknesses: Overcoming inexperience.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: McCandless is preaching patience. “We might not have success right away.”

Lebanon

Coach Tim Kehoe (25).

League: New Hampshire Division II.

Last Year: 21-3, lost in semifinals.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Moriah Morton, Emily Kehoe. Juniors — Sam MacDonald, Heather King, Claudia Bouton, Jennie Laramie, Moriah Ramos.

Who’s New: Sophomore — Venessa Fleury. Freshmen — Brooke Falzarano, Sonja Wolke, Kendra MacDonald.

Who’s Gone: Colleen Taylor, Leanna Travis, Hanna Gariepy, Taylor Friedman, Chelsea Dow.

Strengths: “We return four players with over 500 minutes played in last year’s games,” said Kehoe.

Weaknesses: “Our bench is young and inexperienced.”

Players to Watch: “Our starting five will all be fun to watch.”

Toughest Foes: Merrimack Valley and Windham.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “If we stay healthy and develop the bench, we are looking for another deep run in the tourney.”

Mascoma

Coach: Mike Neily (5).

League: New Hampshire Division III.

Last Year: 13-7, lost in quarterfinals.

Who’s Back: Erin Tevere (G), Kori Kosiorek (G), Kayla Larocque (C), Meghan Crate (F), Aleah Judd (G), Jenny Gilmore (F).

Who’s New: Junior — Lindsay Thompson (F), Catie Kondi (F), Amanda Guerin (G), Alex Van Zandt (G). Sophomore — Dani Jones (G), Michaela Selinga (F).

Who’s Gone: Amy Brock, Nicole DeBalsi, Brittany Jones.

Strengths: Speed, guard play.

Weaknesses: Lack of size, interior threat.

Players to Watch: Kosiorek, Van Zandt, Jones, Guerin, Selinga.

Toughest Opponents: Fall Mountain, White Mountains, Hopkinton.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “We just need to focus on every game we play and not look ahead. We need to improve individually, but work as a team.”

Mid Vermont Christian

Coach: Perry Seale (3).

League: Vermont Division IV.

Last Year: 14-6, lost to Craftsbury in first round of tourney.

Who’s Back: Senior — Morgan Riddle; Junior — Phoebe Seale; Freshman — Anna Seale.

Who’s New: Sophomore — Shenni Emmond; Freshmen — Emma Brian, Kathy Haas; 8th grader — Cheyenne Jones.

Who’s Gone: Sarah Burgess, Leanna Johnson.

Players to Watch: Phoebe Seale, Sarah Burgess, Anna Seale.

Strengths: “Even though we have a thin team of seven player,s we have some strong returning players to carry us,” Perry Seale said.

Weaknesses: “We have several very young players.”

Toughest Foes: The Sharon Academy, Twin Valley.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “We may be young, but we have some very good athletes who will develop quickly.”

Newport

Coach: Dave Muzzey (1).

League; New Hampshire Division III.

Last Year: 4-14.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Darien Hubert, Alex Stefan, Ashley Plante, Jen Kidder. Sophomore — Anna Stefan.

Who’s New: Juniors — Hannah Merrow, Sky Curtis, Renee Magoon. Sophomore — Chrissy Merritt. Freshman — Stephanie Carl.

Strengths: “Intensity and a desire to win. The team plays hard buzzer to buzzer. Solid team leadership.”

Weaknesses: “Many girls playing their first year of varsity. The team is learning to play together as a cohesive unit,”

Toughest Opponents: Mascoma, Fall Mountain, Monadnock.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “I am really excited about coaching this team of girls. You can’t ask for harder workers every game and every practice,” said Muzzey. “Our goal this year it to make the tournament and bring excitement to the game of basketball.”

Oxbow

Coach: Felicia Kingsbury (1)

League: Vermont Division III.

Last Year: Won state championship.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Emily Speck, Dilan Clements. Juniors — Cassie Hutchinson, Lauren Tomlinson.

Who’s New: Juniors — Mikayla Hodge, Maliana Wright, Savannah Fay, Cassie Hutchinson, Jasmine Clark, Sabrina French.

Strengths: “With this new group everyone has something to give — from height, to speed, to defense.”

Weaknesses: “Our challenge will be how to best apply our talents.”

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “It will be a challenge. It’s not easy coming back from being a state champion.”

Rivendell

Coach: Russ Wilcox (8)

League: Vermont Division III; Central Vermont League.

Last Year: 16-6, lost in second round to Oxbow.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Lacey Stever, Stefanie DeSimone, Kaitlin Maddock. Juniors — Hanna Rockwell, Megan Winagle. Juniors — Megan Perkins, Nicole Bates, Hannah Smith. Sophomores — Tao Ameden, Emily Ghio. Freshmen — Jennifer Debois, Nicole Wurtz.

Who’s Gone: Amber Brooks, Autumn Brooks, Chelsey Stever, Kathleen McCarty.

Players to Watch: “Lacey Stever is a two-time Dream Dozen and three-time CVL All-Star. Stefanie DeSimone is also a Dream team player and will lead our team in rebounding and defense.”

Strengths: “We should rebound and defend well.” Also a deep bench.

Weaknesses: “Initially, our shooting and ballhandling will be weak, but as our new guards gain experience and confidence we should be solid by playoffs.”

Toughest Foes: “Solid schedule with Oxbow, Proctor, Twinfield and Twin Valley.”

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “We will spend all season working to make our young players as strong as our returning veterans” says Wilcox. “By season’s end we hope to be well tested, well prepared and ready to make a run in the tournament.”

Sharon

Coach: Brian Allard (1).

League: Vermont Division III.

Last Year: 7-13.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Eliza Putnam, Samantha Abrams; Juniors — Caroline Price, Abby Hurwitz; Sophomore — Suzie Moses.

Who’s New: Seniors — Cassie Lee, Sierra Dressman, Brook Kennedy; Freshman — Katherine Elded.

Who’s Gone: Carolyn Atwood, Victoria Oliver.

Strengths: Outside shooting.

Weaknesses: Lack of front court players.

Players to Watch: Samantha Abrams, Susie Moses.

Toughest Foes: Rivendell, Windsor, Twinfield.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “I hope we can develop a bench so we can get a rotation of eight or nine players.”

South Royalton

Coach: Bob Gray (2).

League: Vermont Division IV, Central Vermont League.

Last Year: 3-17, missed playoffs.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Ellen Manby (F), Kim Lakin (G), Cheryl Flint (F), Emily Berk (G), Sarah Caron (G). Juniors — Hayley Hudson (F). Sophomore — Jacqueline Fulcher (G).

Who’s New: Sophomore — Brooke Knudsen (F), Rylee Lewis (F), Larissa Stride (F). Freshman — Rachael Moore (G).

Who’s Gone: Alexis Vincelette (graduated), Courtney Clark (injured).

Strengths: Intelligence, speed, confidence.

Weakness: Shooting ability.

Players to Watch: Lakin, Manby.

Toughest Opponent: Rivendell.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “We’ve got high expectations to be much-improved. If everyone stays healthy, it’s going to be a good season.”

Stevens

Coach: Ross Dole (1).

League: New Hampshire Division III.

Last Year: 8-10. Lost to White Mountains in quarterfinals.

Who’s Back: Senior — Adelina Hilerio. Juniors — Alexis Melcher, Kirsten Dole, Cheyenne Kemper, Morgan Busby, Emily Charest. Sophomore — Natalie Wilson.

Who’s New: Senior — Amerin McCall. Sophomores — Madelyn Whipple, Katelyn Belaire, Desneige Roy, Linn Schutze.

Players to Watch: “Adelina Hileiro has a lot skills. This could be a breakout year for her. Alexis Melcher can shoot the ball.”

Strengths: “We have good speed and decent height.”

Weaknesses: “Taking care of the ball.”

Toughest opponents: Fall Mountain, Conant, Windsor, Mascoma.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “I think it’s going to be tough in the beginning as the girls learn a new system. I think we will be totally different team by the end of the season.”

Thetford

Coach: Eric Ward (4).

League: Vernont Division III; Capitol League D

Last Year: 18-5. Lost in semifinals to Oxbow in double overtime.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Kaitlin Olsen, Liz Robinson,. Juniors — Shyann Josler, Ella Chapman. Sophomore — Michaela Pomeroy.

Who’s New: Seniors — Erika Gray, Tegan Pellerin; Juniors -Tara Pellerin, Elise Jackson. Sophomores - Rozzlyn Kidder, Lydia Leirschuh.

Who’s Gone: Kaitlin Pippin, Lindsey Borst, Brittany Gray, Sarah Roberts, Abby Welch, Jill Clark.

Players to Watch: Josler and Chapman. “Josler was a dream team selection.”

Toughest Foes: U-32, Hartford, Rivendell. “Capitol League is always tough.”

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “Really optimistic. Our goal is to be playing our best basketball in March.”

Whitcomb

Coach: Dennis Wood (2).

League: Central Vermont League South, Vermont Division IV.

Last Year: 10-11, lost to Blue Mountain in first round.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Cambry Zullick, Reba Hart, Mackenzie Delia. Juniors — Alexis Burnham, Nicole Begin, Ashley LaPerle.

Who’s New: All are returning players.

Who’s Gone: Rachel Wood, Leanne Ketner, Cassandra Burnham, Rebecca Burns.

Players to Watch: “All are capable with varsity experience.”

Strengths: “Most of last year’s offense is back. All seven players are capable of scoring double figures.”

Weaknesses: “Only seven players.”

Toughest Foes: West Rutland, Rivendell, Williamstown.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “If we can stay healthy we should have a very good year. The team worked hard over the summer and is much improved. They will be fun to watch.”

Windsor

Coach: Bruce Mackay (7).

League: Vermont Division III; Marble Valley League B Division.

Last Year: 17-6. lost to Enosburg, 52-50, in semifinals.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Ashley Blake, Ashlee Dimick, Nikki Kibling, Rachel Meagher.

Who’s New: Juniors — Mariah Marsh, Annie Nelson, Taylor Potwin. Sophomores — Lindsey Clark, Haley Wood. Maryam Orgoi.

Who’s Gone: Lindsey Buckman, Abigail Wright, Kimberly White, Katelyn Curtis, Allison Wilcox, Grace Peters, Brook Clark.

Players to Watch: “We have been successful as a unit the past six years and that will hold true for this year’s team.”

Strengths: “Knowing what it takes to win — attitude and the desire to maintain the high expectations of Windsor girls basketball,” Mackay said. “We have decent speed and intelligence of knowing the defensive system that is in place and knowledge of hard work, dedication and individual sacrifices it takes for a program to be successful.”

Weaknesses: “Lack of varsity experience, especially at the guard position. Size is a problem, but we do rebound well for the size that we do have. We need to finish better. Ball handling is a question mark at least early in the season.

Toughest Foes: Hartford, Fair Haven, Mill River, Otter Valley, Brattleboro, Burr & Burton, Springfield.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “We will be a work in progress team and expectations set high as in the past. We have a great attitude and work ethic as a group, but I can see some bumps in the road that will occur, and it’s how we react to them for us to achieve our goals that we set for ourselves this year. We won’t always play pretty basketball, but we will play hard and have fun playing the game.”

Woodstock

Coach: Roger St. Hilaire (1)

League: Vermont Division III.

Who’s Back: Senior — Emma Blaiklock. Sophomores — Tess Johnson, Amber Barcomb, Shuyler Benoit.

Who’s New: Junior — Brandy Murray; Freshmen — Paitra Martin, Natausha Smallwood, Gabbi Rozumek, Megan Dalton, Ashley Johnson, Emily Barnum, Kaila Lemmer.

Who’s Gone: Annie Arthur, Nicole Stone, Morgan Pierce.

Players to Watch: Emma Blaiklock, Ambeer Barcomb.

Strengths: “Good attitude and enthusiasm.”

Weaknesses: “Overall skill.”

Toughest Foes: First-year coach will learn as the season goes along.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “I’m new to Vermont basketball, so I am not familiar with any of the schools we will face this year. I think our level of play has to come up dramatically for us to be successful.”

Woodsville

Coach: Jim Kinder (3).

League: New Hampshire Division IV.

Last Year: 12-7, lost to Moultonborough in first round.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Tiarra Beatrice (G), Abby Simano (F), Alex Valliant (F), Danelle Huntingon (G). Junior — Chrissy Valliant (F). Sophomores — Sam Thurston (F), Maggie Kinder (F), Laura Rutherford (G).

Who’s New: Junior — Erika Belyea (G). Sophomore — Lottie Page (F). Freshmen — Sam Turgeon (G), Tori Clough (F/G), Dee Martin (G), Becky Huntley (F), Maddy O’Shana (F), Nikita Duling (G), Brittany Derrington (G).

Who’s Gone: Corrie Kinder, Stephanie McDermott, Bri Tempelmeyer, Briana Belyea, Kayla Griswold.

Strengths: Focus and dedication, rebounding.

Weaknesses: The Engineers are still working on improving fundamental skills.

Players to Watch: Simano, Beatrice, Valliant.

Toughest Opponents: Groveton, Colebrook, Littleton.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “As our fundamental skills improve, we will be a sound defensive team that can rebound, defend and score consistently against all opponents. This will be a team that works hard, plays well together, and has fun.

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CORRECTION

This article has been amended to correct an earlier error:

Junior Mikayla Hodge was inadvertently omitted from the Oxbow High girls basketball roster listed in Sunday's Upper Valley girls basketball preview.

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PHOTO CORRECTION

A photo caption associated with this article was amended to correct an earlier error. The following correction ran in the Thursday, Dec. 20 edition of the Valley News:

Mascoma High girls basketball player Erin Tevere was shown dribbling downcourt in a photo in Sunday's high school basketball preview. The photo credit misidentified the player.