New Coach, New Players, Same Outcome for Sunapee — A Win

Valley News Correspondent
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Sunapee — The names have changed, but the results are the same.

Sunapee High ushered in a new era of girls basketball on Tuesday night with a new roster and a new coach. The score looked familiar, however, as the Lakers coasted to 52-23 win over Wilton-Lyndborough at Sherburne Gym.

When last season ended, Sunapee had won its third straight NHIAA Division IV championship, carrying a 72-game winning streak into the 2017-18 season.

However, all five starting players and two of the top reserves were seniors, all lost to graduation. Also leaving was coach Tim LeTorra, now coaching at Concord High while still a physical education teacher at Sunapee.

All those changes were facing first-year coach Stephanie Larpenter, who admitted she was a bit nervous, “but excited to get going,” she said.

Larpenter is home-grown, having graduated from Sunapee in 2013. The girls basketball team was 72-6 during her four years there, but she didn’t get to play much because of knee issues. She tried to play at Colby-Sawyer College, but again her knee said no.

So she next tried coaching. After being an assistant coach in girls basketball and girls soccer at Kearsarge High, she landed the varsity girls job at Sunapee.

“She made a nice contribution to our teams,” Kearsarge athletic director Scott Fitzgerald said. “She’s a great kid.”

Larpenter studied sports management at Colby-Sawyer and is currently working in the family business, New London Wood Products, as a marketing manager.

While the season-opening win was relatively easy, there may soon come a time when the wins may not be piled so high. This Sunapee team has just one senior, two juniors and six freshmen.

Putting foul shooting aside (4-for-15), it was a solid effort against an opponent that has one senior, one junior, two sophomores, a freshman and three eighth-graders.

Larpenter liked her team’s energy at the start and the all-game defense.

“We know we’re going to have to play tough defense, because we’re not going to score like we have in other years,” she said.

A couple of other areas that were to Larpenter’s liking were the effort on the boards and the way her team “doubled down on defense.”

The flow of the game was all Sunapee, as the Lakers led, 36-11, at the half and held the Warriors to just 12 points in the second half.

“This was pretty good tonight, and I realize this was our first game, but we could be in better shape,” said Larpenter, who expects the most trouble from Colebrook and Littleton this season.

The Lakers are at Colebrook on Dec. 23. Next for Sunapee is a Friday home game with Portsmouth Christian.

The Lakers spread the scoring around, getting 10 points each from Kalleigh Pierce, Elizabeth Bennett and Kelsey Couitt. Fiona Nolan and Abby Pollari and Miah Hamm all had six apiece.

Notes: Sunapee athletic director Tom Frederick said his St. Lawrence University freshman daughter, Kate, was named the Liberty League’s top women’s basketball rookie on Nov. 20.