Windsor aims for title win: Senior-laden lineup has Yellowjackets buzzing this season

  • Windsor’s Reese Perry (12) jumps above Brattleboro defenders to grab a rebound during a game at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. Windsor won, 51-26. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America photographs — Alex Driehaus

  • Windsor’s Reese Perry (12) tips the ball forward over Brattleboro’s Mallory Newton (24) at the beginning of a game at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. Windsor won, 51-26. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • Windsor’s Holly Putnam (4) looks for a teammate to pass to while evading Brattleboro’s Kiki McNary (12) during a game at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. Windsor won, 51-26. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • Windsor’s Sydney Perry (20) watches her shot go up during a game against Brattleboro Union High School at Windsor High School in Windsor, Vt., on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. Windsor won, 51-26. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/31/2022 9:34:58 PM
Modified: 2/2/2022 4:40:58 PM

WINDSOR — There’s a certain expectation student-athletes at Windsor High have to uphold when they compete for the Yellowjackets.

The school of less than 300 students punches well above its weight when it comes to winning state championships. After the football and field hockey squads both took home VPA Division III titles this past fall, the girls basketball team, which was on top as recently as 2018 and was a co-champion in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the semifinals and finals, appears primed to win another this winter.

“When you play a sport for Windsor, you’re going to eventually get to a point where you’re going to be playing for a title,” Yellowjackets girls basketball coach Kabray Rockwood said. “The kids feel it when they’re super young. It’s more like a quiet confidence that these players have from a young age, and it’s amazing how it gets passed player to player from one class to the next.”

Rockwood was an assistant to Bruce Mackay before taking over as head coach prior to last season. With Rockwood’s daughter Olivia — now at the University of Maine — leading the way, Windsor lost to Thetford in the state final in 2017, then got revenge on the Panthers to win the title the following year.

This year’s group is far more than just one star. The Yellowjackets’ starting lineup is comprised entirely of seniors, three of whom — forward Reese Perry and guards Elliot Rupp and Peyton Richardson — are averaging double figure scoring. Along with guard Holly Putnam and forward Karen Kapuscinski, it’s a group that has been playing together since sixth grade.

“Since we’ve played together for so long, our chemistry is super strong,” Rupp said. “We kind of talk to each other on the court without actually talking to each other.”

Those seniors have Windsor off to an 11-2 start, including victories over Division II teams like Hartford and Woodstock. Brattleboro, of Division I, handed the Yellowjackets their first loss on Jan. 6 with Richardson and Kapuscinski out, but Windsor avenged that defeat in style last Thursday, holding the Colonels to seven points in the first half in a 51-26 win.

Perry leads Windsor in scoring with 15.4 points per game, with a season-high 25 in a blowout win over another Division II team, Fair Haven. Rupp is averaging 13.2 points, and she has caught fire of late, scoring 22 and 21, respectively, in the Jacks’ two victories last week.

As good as Windsor’s offense has been — the Yellowjackets have cracked the 80-point mark twice this year — the defense has been even better, allowing just 33.9 points per game. Windsor regularly deploys a full-court press, forcing opponents into quick turnovers and leading to transition baskets on the other end.

Perry has embraced her role on both ends of the floor. As a post player, she understands that a rebound means either an extra possession for her team or the end of the other team’s time on offense, and she’s developed a number of moves to help overcome her relative size disadvantage among bigs.

“The paint sometimes becomes crowded and busy and scary,” Perry said. “My dad told me I need to be crafty. I need to think a little bit more because I’m not going to be able to outjump the girl next to me nine times out of 10. I need to be able to use my body to create space, scoring outside of my frame, ball faking when it’s appropriate. If I don’t have the right angle, it’s not going to be advantage, me.”

Richardson and Perry helped the Windsor field hockey team win its third consecutive state title in early November, and now they have their team in position to win on the hardwood as well. And the program should be in good shape after this senior class departs, as well — Perry’s younger sister Sydney is a sophomore and Rupp’s younger sister Audrey is a freshman, as is Rockwood’s younger daughter Sophia.

For now, all the focus is on keeping that successful tradition alive.

“There’s a level of responsibility that every kid who plays for Windsor has,” Rockwood said. “There definitely is a proverbial torch. But this group does a good job separating themselves from that, feeling that responsibility but also being able to have comfort in what they’ve accomplished and what they still have to accomplish.”

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




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