Girls Basketball: Ten Players to Watch in 2015-2016

Francesca Calabraro Alyssa Piazza
Francesca Calabraro (14) and Alyssa Piazza (32) are two players to watch during the 2015-16 season. (Josh Perry/

By Josh Perry, Managing Editor
Emily Houle, Attleboro – The Attleboro sharpshooter is one of the league’s top returning scorers and will be the main perimeter threat for a loaded Bombardiers team. Houle has emerged in the past two seasons as a top notch on the ball defender and has developed into a top level scorer as well. She can create her own shot off the dribble and knock down spot up shots when Sarah Deyo gets doubled in the post. Every year, Houle has improved and added something to her game, if she can be more of a creator this season then Attleboro can be a team to watch out for in Div. 1 South.
Ashley Sampson, Foxboro – The sophomore guard is one of four second-year players starting for the Warriors at the beginning of the season. Sampson turned into one of Foxboro’s most dependable offensive players during its run to the sectional final last year and head coach Lisa Downs thinks that Sampson is ready for big things this winter. Her quick first step creates room for drives to the hoop or to get off a jumper and she has plenty of range to punish teams that try and drop off of her. With Kat Tamulionis gone, Sampson will see a lot of the ball in Foxboro’s motion offense and should take on a larger scoring role. Foxboro loves to pressure the ball and get out on the break and Sampson will be a key with her defensive effort and speed to push the ball.
Ashley Ahern, North Attleboro – The North Attleboro junior guard gave prep school a look but decided to stay with the Rocketeers and the league is better off for it. Ahern has plenty of range and can be a streaky shooter who can turn games around with her jumper. Last year, Ahern, who is far from the tallest player on the court, also showed the ability to get into the lane and finish even with contact. She also has good vision with the ball and her drives regularly opened space for North’s forwards to get layups. Even with North’s strength in the post, Ahern was one of the team’s top rebounders and is willing to mix it up in the paint to get a loose ball. North will be counting on that tenacity as Ahern takes on more of a leadership role this season.
Sarah Deyo, Attleboro – The junior forward matched Houle’s scoring totals from a year ago and adds rebounding and a post presence to the Bombardiers offense. After a decent freshman season, Deyo became one of the top players in the league as a sophomore and was named Underclassman of the Year. She has the ability to step outside and knock down shots and also has an array of moves on the block and can finish with either hand. Last year, Deyo turned into a decent post defender and rim protector and allows the Bombardiers to pressure on the ball knowing that she will be in the paint if anyone gets through.
Francesca Calabraro, Oliver Ames – All of the traits that made Calabraro a standout on the pitch also make her a player to watch on the court. The junior guard has the strength, quickness, athleticism, and ability to read the game to cause problems for teams on both ends of the court. Offensively she showed a strong mid-range game last year and if she extends that beyond the arc this year will open up space for her drives to the hoop. She also sees the floor very well and can make the decisive pass (essentially a repeat of what was said about her before the soccer season). Defensively, her quick hands made her one of the league leaders in steals.
Alecia Quinones, Stoughton – The senior forward turned into a double-double machine for the Black Knights last season and this year will be counted on to provide scoring for a new coach and a potentially up tempo style. She has the athleticism to get out on the break and finish, while also being the player that is going to start a lot of those transition opportunities with her rebounding. If Quinones can continue to improve her jumper and draw defenders away from the basket, she has the quickness to get to the basket off the dribble. Defensively, against certain teams, Quinones will be able to cover three positions and was a good weak side defender in a zone. There is a lot of excitement in the Stoughton program this season and Quinones is one of the reasons for optimism that the Black Knights could make a run to get back into the postseason.
Jen Peel, Mansfield – The Hornets have arguably the deepest team in the league this season, with a number of players that can step in and produce. The key to ensuring that everyone gets their shots and gets them in the right spots is Peel. The junior point guard is one of the best distributors in the league and always seems capable of finding a seam even as other teams try to cut off the lane. She can finish at the rim, usually preceded by a pass fake, or she can pick out a teammate when the defense rotates. Mansfield’s best offense is on the break and Peel is the engine that makes it go. She can also step back and knock down shots from the perimeter to keep defenses honest. It is always a battle between the point guard’s desire to improvise and Coach Redding’s controlled offensive attack but when it clicks the Hornets will be one of the top offensive teams in the league.
Kate Irwin, Milford – The sophomore point guard was a revelation in her freshman season and became one of Milford’s top scorers as a rookie. She has the quick first step to get by her defender and showed an array of finishes near the basket including an effective floater. The lefty has range to spare and takes advantage of defenders have to close out to open driving lanes where she can either get to the basket or dish off to Milford’s numerous forwards. Irwin’s quickness can also make her a solid on-the-ball defender and should create some turnovers for the Hawks, which will allow their athletes to get out on the break. Several coaches noted Milford could be a sleeper this season and Irwin will be a key for the Hawks making a run at the tournament.
Alyssa Piazza, Sharon – Injuries have shortened each of the last two seasons for the junior forward, but Piazza is starting this fall healthy and looking to provide the rebounding and post scoring to Sharon’s offense. Although she is not the tallest forward in the league, Piazza positions herself well and is willing to battle in the post to get every rebound and has a versatile offensive game whether posted up or facing up to the basket. She is also a strong passer out of the post, so if teams try to double team her she can find a cutter or kick it out to one of Sharon’s shooters on the perimeter. If Piazza can stay on the court and play a full season, Sharon could turn things around and get back to the tournament.
Lauren Rudolph, Franklin – Franklin is flying under the radar at the start of the season after losing a number of pieces from last year’s squad but one player who could make a big leap this winter is Rudolph. The senior wing has plenty of range, which works well in Franklin’s drive-and-kick attack and she has also developed the ability to take the ball to the basket as well. She suffered an injury during soccer last year that forced her to miss the beginning of the season, but this time around she is ready to jump in and become one of the primary scorers for the Panthers. There is talk that Franklin lacks some of the star power of recent seasons, but Rudolph has shown the potential over the last two years that she may be ready for a breakout.

Ryan Lanigan
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