2023 HS girls basketball guide

By BENJAMIN ROSENBERG

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 02-02-2023 12:04 PM

With Hanover and Windsor coming off state titles, it's shaping up to be another exciting year for girls basketball in the Upper Valley. Mascoma, Newport and Stevens are all poised to improve in NHIAA Division III, and White River Valley has a deep roster as it looks to follow up on its first trip to Barre Auditorium. New head coaches are taking over at Oxbow, Thetford and Woodstock.

HANOVER

Coach: Dan O'Rourke (22nd season).

Last year: 21-0, defeated Bow for state championship.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returners: Seniors — Stella Galanes (G), Amina Ajwang (F), Nina Sablan (F). Juniors — Sydney McLaughlin (G), Nina Marshall (F), Elena Mierke (G).

Newcomers: Bella Hunt, Erin Kirkpatrick, Dylan Simpkins, Sophia Costa, Clare Starosta.

Analysis: The Bears destroyed all comers last year and have won 65 consecutive regular-season contests dating to a December 2018 loss to archrival Lebanon. Over the last four seasons, Hanover has gone 77-3 against in-state foes and 40-0 at home, with two state titles and two losses in the semifinals.

This year's group has lost key contributors like Melissa Whitmore and Jane Lackley, but the Bears bring back Galanes, a Tufts commit who averaged 18.6 points per game in 2021-22 and is over 1,000 for her high school career. Ajwang and McLaughlin should see bigger roles as well.

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"New team, new journey," O'Rourke said. "This team has championship experience, good shooting, competitiveness and an infusion of new talent. We have a challenging schedule that will allow us to grow and mature throughout the season, and come playoff time, be positioned to compete at a high level."

HARTFORD

Coach: Heidi Bushway (fifth season).

Last year: 8-12, lost in first round to Mount Abraham.

League: VPA Division II.

Returners: Seniors — Marina Grassi (G), Jaelyn Smith (G), Ava Thorburn (F), Avery Mosenthal (F). Juniors — Kamryn Brower (G), Madison Willey (F).

Newcomers: Sophomores — Izzabelle Sirois (G), Paige Vielleux (G), Paige Trombley (F). Freshman — Charlotte Jasmin (F).

Analysis: The Hurricanes move on from a large crop of seniors after a disappointing 2021-22 season. Hartford does bring back plenty of experience on a team stacked with multi-sport athletes.

"The season looks to be bright for this young team," Bushway said. "They are willing to put in the work and are ready to take on any challenge."

LEBANON

Coach: Christopher Boucher (second season).

Last year: 14-9, lost in quarterfinals to Pembroke.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returners: Senior — Keira Houdegbe (G). Juniors — Sarah Belk (F), Isabelle Hamilton (G). Sophomore — Lucy Eshbaugh (F).

Newcomers: Sophomores — Nina Ellingson, Nora Burns (G), Ainslee Delisle, Drew Kantor, Alysa Wyman, Sage Murray. Freshmen — Lily Estes, Lydia Hamilton, Annella Marsh (G/F).

Analysis: The Raiders have moved on from last year's senior class that featured leading scorer Catherine Cole and post presence Ella Longacre, and will be replacing their full starting five. Just one senior and three upperclassmen are on this year's roster, but Lebanon is adding Burns, a transfer point guard from Winchester High School in Massachusetts. Boucher also has high hopes for the freshman Marsh.

"We have 13 players who get in the weight room before practice and accept the process of getting better every day," Boucher said. "Each practice and each game we get better than the day before."

MASCOMA

Coach: Tonya Young (second season).

Last year: 6-11, lost in first round to Prospect Mountain.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returners: Senior — Kayli Stapelfeld (G). Juniors — Leah Larocque (C), Gabby Pierce (F/C), Hailey Miller (F), Kylie Rogers (G), Emily Seiler (G). Sophomore — Anna Sullivan (F/C).

Newcomers: Senior — Piper Morgan (G). Juniors — Isabella Adams (G), Alexis Patterson (G/F). Freshmen — Makenna Houston (G/F), Eleanor McGrody (G), Grace Clifford (G).

Analysis: The Royals improved from one win to six in Young's first season at the helm. Pierce and Seiler are returning starters, and Mascoma has high hopes for Houston, coming off an impressive freshman field hockey season.

"We have strong post players and a strong defensive mindset," Young said. "I am excited to hopefully get our girls to a double-digit win season."

MID VERMONT CHRISTIAN

Coach: Chris Goodwin (seventh season).

Last year: 13-9, lost in quarterfinals to Blue Mountain.

League: VPA Division IV.

Returners: Senior — Sarah Bascom (F). Sophomores — Alyssa Roberts (G), Maggie Sharkey (F).

Newcomers: Freshmen — Cecily Delinger, Lydia Dickey. Eighth graders — Rebekah Roberts, Natalie Bokinala, Sylvie Twarog, Jorga Duplessis.

Analysis: The Eagles graduated Hayley Goodwin, who accounted for 63% of their scoring last year. This year's team only runs nine deep and will feature multiple eighth graders playing heavy minutes.

"We have a nice core group of determined young players who will be very competitive in a couple of years, maybe sooner," Chris Goodwin said. "By the second half of the season, I plan to be a very different team from when we started in November."

NEWPORT

Coach: Ross Dole (seventh season).

Last year: 7-10, lost in first round to Newfound.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returners: Junior — Tanya Sanchez (G). Sophomores — Maddox Lovely (F), Skylar Nelson (F), Cassie Sanborn (G), Torrence Williams (G), Taylor Fellows (G), Lela Trott (G).

Newcomers: Sophomores — Natasha Carpenter (F), Naveah Caron (F), Erica Sayer (G). Freshmen — Makayla Cossingham (G), Brooklyn Ranney (G).

Analysis: The Tigers may be young, but they are experienced — they started three freshmen and a sophomore last year. Fellows (12.8 ppg a year ago) will be the headliner, but Lovely, Nelson and Sanchez figure to continue their development as well.

"We're a young, hardworking group ready to improve on last year's accomplishments," Dole said.

OXBOW

Coach: Jay Clark (first season).

Last year: 7-14, lost in first round to Otter Valley.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Seniors — MacKenna Simmons (F), Noelle Koslowski (F). Sophomore — Maggi Ellsworth (G).

Newcomers: Natalee Spear, Braylee Phelps, Lilly DeGoosh, Anastase Bourgeois, Layla Ellsworth, Erin Fuller, Caleigh Bean, Libby Swift.

Analysis: Clark, a longtime AAU coach, takes the reins from Barry Emerson for the Olympians, who will be one of the youngest squads in the area. Maggi Ellsworth (8.2 ppg as a freshman) is the top returner.

RIVENDELL

Coach: Tim Goodwin (third season).

Last year: 6-11, lost in first round to Northfield.

League: VPA Division IV.

Returners: Senior — Ryleigh Butler (G). Junior — Elisia Sonsalla (G). Sophomores — Erin Ricker (G), Shaylee Carter (G).

Newcomers: Senior — Jill Bushee (G). Juniors — Emma Seward (G), Lauren Smith (G). Sophomore — Eiea Morgan (G). Freshmen — Lindsay O'Hearn (G), Mikayla-Lee Eastman (G), Isabella Murphy (G).

Analysis: The Raptors will be trying to stay the course with a young roster that may not have much in the way of size but hopes to earn a home playoff game.

"We have a group of young ladies who are enjoying being together and having the opportunity to compete," Goodwin said. "We are young and excited to develop as individuals and as a team."

STEVENS

Coach: Steve Condon (second season).

Last year: 13-5, lost in quarterfinals to Fall Mountain.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returners: Seniors — Alyssa Paquette (F/C), Stella Lavertue (G/F), Tara Sullivan (F/C), Sara Faro (F/C). Junior — Kiley Bundy (G). Sophomore — Isabella Bovell (G).

Newcomers: Junior — Maya Rice (G/F). Freshmen — Addison Derosier (G/F), Lily Eagan (G), Audrina Pelton (F/C).

Analysis: The Cardinals bring four starters back after a breakout season last year. Bundy (14.7 ppg in 2021-22) will carry the load in the backcourt, while the six-footer Paquette (11.3 ppg) leads a strong crop of frontcourt players.

"We gained experience from last year's playoff run," Condon said. "It's a hard-working group that pushes each other every day at practice and has high expectations for themselves this year."

THETFORD

Coach: Jolene Cadwell (first season).

Last year: 11-9, lost in quarterfinals to Williamstown.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Seniors — Madi Mousley (G), Taylor West (F). Juniors — Addison Cadwell (G), Whitney Lewis (F), Charlize Brown (F), Kelsey Bogie (G), Mason Fahey (G).

Newcomer: Sophomore — Ruth Wilmott (F).

Analysis: Jolene Cadwell takes the reins from the late Eric Ward, who died from colon cancer in May. Cadwell, previously an assistant, has an experienced roster at her disposal, led by Mousley, Lewis and Brown. Addison Cadwell is back after missing all of last year with an ACL injury.

"The girls want to learn and they are hard workers," Jolene Cadwell said. "It is a great group of kids to coach."

WHITE RIVER VALLEY

Coach: Tim Perreault (fifth season).

Last year: 17-5, lost in semifinals to Windsor.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Seniors — Ella Perreault (F), Jillian Barry (G). Junior — Tanner Drury (G). Sophomores — Ashlyn Rhoades (G), Hannah Collins (F), Lily Babcock (G).

Newcomers: Freshmen — Cassie Armstrong (G), Olivia Tuller (F), McKenzie Vesper (G).

Analysis: The Wildcats reached Barre Auditorium for the first time in school history last year, and they return every major contributor from that group. Drury (16 ppg in 2021-22) is the headliner, along with Barry, Ella Perreault and Rhoades.

"We're hoping to build on last year's team growth," Tim Perreault said. "We matured as the season went on and will need to continue that this year with a young bench."

WINDSOR

Coach: Kabray Rockwood (third season).

Last year: 21-2, defeated Lake Region for state championship.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Seniors — Skylar Thibodeau (F), Estella Attwood (F). Juniors — Amber Simonds (F), Sydney Perry (C). Sophomores — Audrey Rupp (G), Brianna Barton (G), Sophia Rockwood (G).

Newcomers: Seniors — Annabell Vigneault, Audri Pettirossi. Freshmen — Cassie Clark, Kenzie Wescott, Kemari Wildgoose.

Analysis: The Yellowjackets lose the full starting five from last year's championship squad, but Windsor's eight returners should keep the program at or near the top of Division III.

"We will look to our returning seniors, Thibodeau and Attwood, for leadership and toughness, and look to our juniors Perry and Simonds, along with sophomores Rupp, Sophia Rockwood and Barton to provide scoring and defensive tenacity," Kabray Rockwood said.

WOODSTOCK

Coach: Timmy MacDonnell (first season).

Last year: 5-16, lost in Division II first round to Lyndon.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Senior — Norah Harper (G/F). Junior — Georgia Tarleton (G/F). Sophomore — Kamryn Jillson (G).

Newcomers: Seniors — Jordan Allard (G), Natalie Parent (G). Juniors — Charley Crowley (F), Grace Modarai (F), Kianny Harrington (F). Sophomore — Alice Cayer (F). Freshman — Cameron Allard.

Analysis: MacDonnell takes over as the Wasps' fourth coach in five years, but they should have something of a soft landing by moving down to Division III.

"The focus to start the year has been on development and relationships," MacDonnell said. "The athletes have worked hard to build a foundation for success and we will see growth in a variety of skills throughout the winter."

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.

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