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Youthful Tide girls’ basketball team looks for small improvement

Running sprints after a preseason scrimmage wasn’t a punishment for Brynne Rardin. And she wasn’t trying to impress the coaches in hopes of more playing time. Rardin wanted to be running.

“She just came up and asked me after the scrimmage if she could do some sprints, and I said, go ahead,” Concord Coach Mike Achilles said. “That’s the kind of leadership we really want for the program and it shows the girls what hard work is all about.”

Rardin is the only returning starter for the Crimson Tide girls’ basketball team and one of just two seniors. It’s a good thing she doesn’t mind hard work, because that’s what it will take to lift Concord from its recent struggles.

The Tide went 2-17 last year after going winless in 2010-11. And the team is extremely young this season, with five sophomores and one freshman on the 10-player roster. But Achilles, now in his second year, is committed to moving the program forward and he believes Rardin can help.

“She developed some leadership skills last year, but I really see more of a presence with her this year,” Achilles said. “She has stepped up communicating with the girls, keeping them organized and reinforcing the coaching philosophy.”

Rardin will also have to lead with her play. She was Concord’s top scorer last season and the Tide will need her to keep producing offensively. But what she does on the other end may be even more important. Rardin was also the team’s top rebounder and led the Tide in charges taken in 2011-12, and it’s that kind of defensive commitment Achilles wants to use to help turn around the program.

“We want to be a defensive-oriented team and I think the girls have bought into it. They saw what the improvement was last year and they understand that it’s going to make us a more competitive team,” Achilles said. “And in preseason and in our first couple of scrimmages, I thought we continued to improve on our defensive abilities and communication and I think it will keep improving as the season goes on.”

Rardin and sophomores Cassidy Emerson and Janessa Luciano will form the core of Concord’s rotation as the Tide opens the season tonight at home against Dover. Emerson is a versatile 5-foot-6 forward who saw varsity time last year. Luciano also played varsity minutes last season and is one of two diminutive point guards Achilles plans on using. Luciano may be 5-2 and sophomore Deb Morrill 5-3, but they’re big competitors.

“They’re both exceptionally quick and they’re both exceptionally aggressive,” Achilles said. “That will help us with our pressure defense and it will help us be able to push the ball up the floor.”

When the Tide is facing smaller, quicker teams, Achilles will use Morrill and junior guard Liz Sinotte in the starting lineup. When the Tide needs more height, Achilles will turn to 5-11 junior center Nicole Jarry.

“We’ll use (Jarry) when we go against bigger teams like Londonderry and (Bishop Guertin),” Achilles said. “(Sinotte) will get the nod (tonight); she’s an aggressive defender and that’s what we’re going for against Dover.”

Achilles will also use sophomore forwards Meg Cudworth and Rony Daniels, and Peyton Osgood, the team’s only freshman, will get a chance at some first-hand varsity experience as well.

“One of the things we’re looking at with this much youth is we’re going to play for today, but we’re also building for tomorrow, so all the experience these girls are going to get is going to be great for us now and later,” Achilles said. “I do think we’ll be more competitive this year and hopefully we can win a few more games and maybe get a higher seed in the tournament.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3371 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)

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