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Rockwood is Windsor’s one and only

  • Windsor's Olivia Rockwood (31) drives through a trio of Hartford defenders including Beth Dobrich (22), Madison Withington and Jasmine Jenkins (3) at a game in White River Junction on Sat. Feb. 15, 2020. Rockwood has signed on to play for University of Maine. (Rick Russell photograph)

  • Windsor guard Olivia Rockwood (31) looks for a pass during a game against Hartford in White River Jct., Vt., on Sat. Feb. 15, 2020. The senior reached the 1,000-point mark last season. (Rick Russell photograph)

  • Olivia Rockwood brings the ball upcourt for Windsor during a game against Hartford in White River Junction, Vt., on Sat. Feb. 15, 2020. The senior averages 20 points a game, according to the Next College Student Athlete website. (Rick Russell photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/21/2020 10:22:06 PM
Modified: 2/21/2020 10:37:22 PM

WINDSOR — Olivia Rockwood isn’t a cliche local basketball star.

Sure, when she steps onto the court, heads turn. But that’s about where the norm ends.

She’s admittedly shy and easygoing. Never will she be found cussing out a teammate because they missed her on a wide-open look. Don’t get her started on ballhogs; she’d rather see her teammate have the 30-point game.

Rockwood didn’t grow up as some NBA savant who modeled her game after LeBron James. A trip down to Storrs, Conn., to see Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson play for UConn did the trick. Basketball has always been her life, but she never needed it.

But through hours on the court and in the car traveling for AAU, the 18-year-old has become a living legend for the Windsor High girls basketball team.

“She’s definitely the best player that I’ve ever coached,” coach Bruce Mackay said.

Don’t believe that she’s a living legend? Check the stat book.

Over the course of four seasons, the 5-foot-6 guard has played in 88 games and led the Yellowjackets to a 70-18 record (79.5% win percentage), including an 8-2 record in the playoffs. She had scored 1,798 points heading into Friday night; that’s an average of 20.4 a game.

Rockwood has shot 78% from the free-throw line and hit 238 treys in her career, too.

Oh, she’s also had nine 30-plus games, with two coming in Barre Auditorium. Whenever her final game at Windsor comes this winter, she’ll finish her career as the school record-holder for total points.

Her uncle, Josh Farnsworth, scored more 1,600 points for the Jacks, per the Vermont Basketball Coaches website during his time playing for Windsor.

Candice Holliday scored 2,054 points in her career, but she played only her senior year in Windsor after moving from Tennessee. She is often not regarded as an all-time scorer or 1,000-point scorer at Windsor because of this. In the state records, there is an asterisk next to her name.

With two regular-season games remaining, and a foreseeably deep playoff run, scoring another 200 points for 2,000 could be a stretch but not impossible.

“That’s definitely an awesome feeling to be able to do that,” said Rockwood of the chance to hit the 2,000-point mark. “It’s never been something where I’m, like, I need to do this. … I have the potential to do it and if I do, it it’d be really cool. I’m kind of just like a go-with-the-flow person. So if it happens, it happens.”

The ball flies out of her hands whether it is from beyond the arc or inside the paint, thanks to a quick release that she’s worked on for years. It’s one of the attributes that makes her so hard to guard.

Windsor’s trademark transition offense has also led to a lot of opportunities for Rockwood. After four years in the system, she knows where everyone around her is supposed to be. That allows for her to bring up the ball and make a drive to the basket for a floater or halt around 3-point range and pull up.

“She’s always been so good at basketball. It’s been so much fun to play with her because, yes, she’s good, but she’s a great teammate,” said Rockwood’s best friend since sixth grade and her Windsor teammate, Angelina Bigwood.

What Mackay most likes about Rockwood’s game is the basketball knowledge she retains. Knowing where everyone is supposed to be is an example, but there are other things the 14th-year bench boss enjoys about Rockwood’s IQ.

She can see how a situation is going to play out ahead of time, communicates well with Mackay about the happenings on the floor and can read lanes on the go, leading to plenty of simple assists.

“She wants the ball in key situations with no question,” Mackay said. “She just wants it. She has the confidence in her. I’ve had a lot of great teams, a lot of great players to consider, but I just consider her coming out of Windsor High School as one of the best players to ever play, boys or girls.”

Over the course of Rockwood’s four years at Windsor, the Thetford Academy Panthers have become a chief rival for the Jackets on the hardwood.

The Panthers hold a series lead of 6-5 in the 11 games played between the two teams with three postseason matchups.

In 2017, Rockwood had her first career 30-point game against Thetford in the state championship game, but the Jacks fell, 53-52. She had her first taste of a championship the next season when she had back-to-back 30-point games in the quarters and semifinals before beating Thetford, 51-34.

Last season was possibly Rockwood’s biggest heartbreak of her high school career: a semifinal loss to the Panthers. After receiving a first-round bye, the Jacks handled BFA-Fairfax and advanced to the semis against Thetford at The Aud.

Rockwood scored 13 points in the first half, but Windsor trailed, 26-23, at the break. Then the Panthers clamped down on defense and allowed her to only score one second-half point as Thetford advanced to the finals for the sixth consecutive season.

“She’s always wanted to be the best player she could and, because of that, she’s elevated Windsor’s program,” Thetford coach Eric Ward said. “Windsor’s one of the better programs in the state because of who she. She’s made her teammates better. That’s what you want from a good player, and she’s a perfect example of that.

“She’s the one person we have to coach against where we change up our game plan. When she’s open, she can shoot from a long ways out, unlike any other girl we play. I’ve had some good defenders who have made her work but never really shut her down. But if we can kinda control her, we can control Windsor a little bit.”

Winning a final state championship is something Rockwood really wants to attain at the end of this basketball season. Graduating with at least one is reassuring, though.

Rockwood will attend Maine for college and play basketball for the NCAA Division I Black Bears. Thanks to her vast experience, Maine will be able to rely on her at the point or shooting guard position.

And while she’ll probably never wear the UConn red, white and blue, maybe she will face off against the Huskies at some point in her collegiate career in nonconference play.

Or, after ripping up the records at Windsor, maybe she’ll follow suit just as her idols Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson did.

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com.




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