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Capsule preview outlook of the area’s high school girls’ basketball teams

High school girls’ basketball outlook

Belmont

Division: III

Coach: Mark Dawalga (1st year)

Last year: 10-9, lost in first round

Returning starters: Elizabeth Yelle, sr., F; Chayleigh Cadarette, so., F; Cassie Contigiani, so., F

Top newcomers: Megan Bailey, jr., F; Mary Kate Russo, jr., F; Jackelyn Robarge, so., G; Kylie Francis O’Connell, so., G; Zoey Zeller, so., G; Jasmin Clairmont, fr., C; Andreya Murphy, fr., C; Courtney Clairmont, fr., G/F

Outlook: It’s a building year for the Red Raiders, who graduated six seniors, including five who saw significant starting minutes. In their place, Belmont will bring a speedy and quick team to the court. But with only three returning varsity players, the team will need some time to jell. “I believe in them,” said Coach Dawalga, who is new to the varsity coaching spot himself. “They are very athletic, which will help them as they gain more experience on the court.”

Teams to beat: White Mtns., Gilford, Newfound, Bow, Campbell

Bishop Brady

Division: III

Coach: Aaron Brochu (1st year)

Last year: 6-12, did not make tournament in Div. II

Returning starters: Victoria LeBlanc, sr.; Taylor Ong, jr.

Top newcomers: Natasha Velez, Maggie Alosa

Outlook: The Green Giants are making the move from Division II to III and they’ll be doing it under a new coach in Brochu, who hopes his team will be able to “compete night in and night out.” Brady will lean on a strong junior class led by Ong, Riselly Deoleo and Emma Will, and will be bolstered by the arrival of Alosa, a familiar name in local basketball circles.

Teams to beat: “Division III has many strong programs, and we are looking forward to the local rivals,” Brochu said. The Giants won’t have to wait long to meet the locals - they play Bow tonight in the season opener.

Bow

Division: III

Coach: Bill Vermette (3rd year)

Last year: 19-2, lost in semifinals

Returning players: Lindsey Nerbonne, sr., G, 5-7; Kirsten Bresson, jr., G, 5-7; Suzanne Barry, sr., F, 5-10; Maddie Horner, jr., F, 6-0; Dina Tischofer, sr., F, 5-10; Megan Lighthall, sr., F, 5-9; Samantha Lulka, so., G/F, 5-8; Ashlie Tucker, jr., G, 5-5

Top newcomers: Amanda Murray, fr., G, 5-7; Taylor Marston, jr., G, 5-6; Sarah Lane, so., G, 5-5

Outlook: The Falcons graduated just two players from last year’s final four team, leaving Bow in good shape for another deep playoff run if everything goes as planned. Bow has good overall team speed, is deep at the guard spots and has decent size inside. A key will be finishing and getting to the foul line. “We have a veteran team,” Coach Vermette said. “If we can get our offense to play more up-tempo and continue to be strong in our halfcourt defense, we should have a solid season.”

Teams to beat: “There are 27 teams in our division, including four teams that came over from D-II. I believe we only play 11 of those 27; very difficult to project,” Coach Vermette said.

Franklin

Division: III

Coach: JJ Winters (6th year)

Last year: 8-12, lost in first round

Returning starters: Jill Roberts, sr., C; Kelsey Bird, jr., C/F

Top newcomers: Katarina Styles, jr., F; Kaley Shepherd, jr., F; Lexi Colpack, so., G; Sadie Kaplan, so., G; Shelby Joyce, so., G/F

Outlook: Franklin comes into the season with a mix of veterans and newcomers. One thing that has Coach Winters optimistic is his team’s height and experience on the interior. The Tornadoes will look to find consistency at the guard position as the season progresses. If everything comes together, Franklin is hopeful to take it a step further this season.

Teams to beat: Bow, Campbell, Conant, Gilford, Hopkinton, Kearsarge, Newfound, White Mtns.

Hillsboro-Deering

Division: III

Coach: Bill Warnken (1st year)

Last year: 5-14, lost in play-in

Returning starters: Erin DeLacy, sr., G, 5-4; Paige Vincent, jr., G, 5-5; Miranda Dyer, sr., F, 5-6

Top newcomers: Hannah Murdough, so., C, 5-8; Madisyn Winters, fr., F, 5-5; Taylor Burrows, so., F, 5-4

Outlook: The senior trio of DeLacy, Dyer and Jocelyn Butler will provide the leadership and plenty of backcourt speed, along with Vincent at the point. Mary Grace Bartoldus, Hannah Pepper and Murdough will be called upon in the frontcourt. And guard Dakota Anderson along with forwards Winters and Brianna Dumeny should provide strong backup to a team that’s looking to improve upon last year’s mark. “As always, the playoffs remain a fixed goal,” Coach Warnken said.

Teams to beat: Hopkinton, Mascoma, Conant, Campbell, Bow, Fall Mtn., Monadnock

Hopkinton

Division: III

Coach: Dave Hughes (6th year)

Last year: 13-7, lost in quarterfinals

Returning starters: Jessica Quinn, sr., F; Abbi Lui, sr., G; Sabrey Montore, jr., G; Brittany Marshall, jr., F; Callie Chase, so., F

Top newcomers: Sloane White, so., G; Sarah Ewing, so., F; Madison Bergethon, jr., F; Grace Givens, so., F

Outlook: With five starters returning from a successful campaign last year, Hopkinton looks to put itself right back in the thick of contention. But several schools moving down from Division II to Division III this year provides an added challenge for the Hawks, who “look to be more competitive with the bigger schools in our class,” Coach Hughes said.

Teams to beat: “All”

Kearsarge

Division: III

Coach: Kurt McCandless (1st year)

Last year: 17-5, Div. II runner-up

Returning starter: Anna Cahill, jr., PG, 5-4

Top newcomers: “Other than Anna, I’m looking at everyone as a newcomer,” McCandless said.

Outlook: The Cougars graduated three starters from last year’s Division II runner-up team and lost a fourth, star guard Morgan Church, to Proctor Academy. They will also be adjusting to a new coach in McCandless, who takes over for Rob Bennett. McCandless coached Kearsarge’s freshmen boys’ team for the last two years and coached the Hillsboro-Deering boys’ varsity team for six years. Despite all the turnover, McCandless refuses to have low expectations for this team and expects the Cougars, led by Cahill at the point and employing an up-tempo style, to be competitive against every team it faces. “We want to improve every game and make the tournament,” McCandless said. “People are going to have to grow quickly for that to happen, but that’s what we want.”

Teams to beat: Campbell, Hopkinton

Winnisquam

Division: III

Coach: Everett Andrus (2nd year)

Last year: 10-10, lost in quarterfinals

Returning starter: Angie Roy, sr., F, 5-9

Top newcomers: Tea Michaloski, fr., G, 5-4; Dallas Austin, jr., F, 5-8

Outlook: The Bears may have graduated four of their five starters from last year’s quarterfinal team, but they bring back Roy as well as their first two players off the bench from last season, juniors Rachel Willcutt and Hannah Chapin. Plus, Coach Andrus is excited about the development of 6-2 junior Bailey Long, whom he believes is ready to have a breakout season. Winnisquam should be able to control the interior against most teams in D-III, and if it can get some perimeter production from Roy and junior Kaylee Howard, this team has the potential to make some noise this winter.

Teams to beat: Bow, Hopkinton, Bishop Brady, Gilford, Newfound

Concord Christian

Division: IV

Coach: Shelby Purtell (4th year)

Last year: 3-15, did not make tournament

Returning starters: Lauren McLaughlin, sr., 5-8; Kaitlyn Purtell, sr., 5-4; Hannah Revitsky, so., 5-9; Kendra Jarvis, so., 5-10

Top newcomers: Kayla Lockwood, fr., 5-3; Sally McDonald, fr., 5-6; Emily Purtell, fr., 5-2

Outlook: The Lady Kingsmen have a nice blend of youth and experience on the roster and in the starting lineup, which features four returners – two seniors and two sophomores. McLaughlin was the team’s leading scorer last year and is an outside shooting threat. Coach Purtell hopes to complement her offense with post play from Jarvis. Sophomore Morgan Draus will be the fifth starter in the opener, senior Nastassja Martel also will get a chance to start and she’ll share the ball-handling duties with Kaityln Purcell. “They know they have to play every game hard to make the tournament this year,” Coach Purtell said.

Teams to beat: Sunapee, Derryfield

Pittsfield

Division: IV

Coach: Steve Langevin (3rd year)

Last year: 20-2, Div. IV runner-up

Returning starters: Bekah Adams, sr., F, 5-6; Sage Anthony, sr., C, 5-9; Stefani Gauthier, jr., PG, 5-2; Brooke Vien, so., F, 5-11

Top newcomers: Gabby Bartlett, so., G, 5-3; Morgan Corliss, so., G, 5-6; Katie Steeves, so., F/C, 6-2; Katie Doucette, jr., F, 5-7

Outlook: With four players returning who contributed significant minutes to last year’s title game run, and four others moving up from the JV team who have already blended well with the veterans, the Panthers are looking to hit the ground running. “Our identity will still be our defense, which we hope translates into some easy transition baskets,” Coach Langevin said. “Offensively, we should be pretty balanced again and should get better as the year goes along, as our newer players become more comfortable.”

Teams to beat: Littleton, Hinsdale, Groveton, Derryfield, Newmarket

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