Girls Basketball: Ten Players to Watch for 2016-2017

Players to Watch
Meg Hill (31) of Mansfield and Sarah Deyo (32) of Attleboro are two of the players to watch in Hockomock girls’ basketball this winter. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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Players are listed alphabetically

Ashley Ahern, Senior – North Attleboro

The senior guard helped North Attleboro reach the tournament last year and with a deeper roster around her will be eyeing a run at a league title in the Rocketeers’ first winter in the Davenport division. Ahern, who was named to the HockomockSports.com Third Team last year, was North’s leading scorer with 10.6 points, 3.3 assists and three steals per game. She was also third on the team with 3.7 rebounds per game and recorded five blocks, a sign of the tenacity she displays every game on both ends of the court. When her shot is falling, Ahern can score from just about anywhere and when defenses step out to watch for the three, she can get into the lane to finish or create openings for her teammates. It’s not unusual to see Ahern grab a defensive rebound on one end and take the ball up court to create an open look for a teammate at the other. North has good balance of paint and perimeter scorers and when shots start to drop then the Rocketeers can put up points in a hurry, with Ahern typically in the middle of it all.

Sarah Deyo, Senior – Attleboro

The senior forward was an honorable mention for Player of the Year last season and is one of the favorites for MVP coming into this winter. Deyo’s versatility makes her difficult for any team to matchup against, as on one possession she will battle on the block or grab an offensive rebound for an easy basket and the next she can step back and knock down a three (she made 14 last season). Deyo, who was the Underclassman of the Year in 2014-15, averaged a double-double of 16.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game and added 55 blocks on the defensive side while guarding anyone from guards to centers. With the graduation of Emily Houle, even more of the scoring load could fall on Deyo’s shoulders, but the Southern New Hampshire-commit seems prepared for that responsibility, as she showed last year when Houle and fellow senior Julia Strachan were injured and Deyo recorded a triple-double in a win over North Attleboro.

Emma Eberhardt, Sophomore – Sharon

The sophomore guard/forward will be one of the go-to offensive players for the Eagles this season after an impressive rookie campaign in which she showed flashes of being the type of wing scorer that Sharon had been missing for a couple of seasons. Eberhardt, despite her youth, was the third leading scorer for the Eagles last year and is continuing to improve her outside shot, which will be a great addition to the solid mid-range game that she already possesses. Her partnership with junior point guard Shira Stoller will be instrumental in Sharon improving on the offensive end of the floor even with the loss of Alyssa Piazza to graduation. Eberhardt will also be counted on to defend multiple positions on the wing and in the post, as the Eagles try to find the right balance in the lineup. Sharon has youth and talent and Eberhardt will be an important piece, if the Eagles are going to make a return to the postseason.

Meg Hill, Junior – Mansfeild

The junior 6-foot-3 center continues to develop her game and will be a major factor in Mansfield’s attempt to try and follow up its first league title with a second one this winter. Hill feeds off senior point guard Jen Peel, who seems to have an innate sense of how to get the ball to her near the basket. Hill can finish over anyone but at times does not look for her shot first. As her confidence grows, so will her scoring numbers and Hill has already proven that she can dominate a game, including a 15-rebound game in the title-clincher against Attleboro. Last year, Hill led Mansfield with 9.7 points per game on 56 percent shooting from the floor. She also pulled down 9.5 rebounds and had 4.7 blocks per game. After being named to the HockomockSports.com Second Team last year, Hill has the opportunity to be in the running for Player of the Year, if she continues to develop as a dominant low-post threat on both ends of the floor.

Kate Irwin, Junior – Milford

The junior guard is the spark plug of the Milford offense and had a stellar sophomore campaign, being named to the HockomockSports.com All-Underclassman Team. Expectations are even higher for a young Hawks roster in head coach T.J. Dolliver’s second season and Irwin is one of the primary reasons why. The southpaw gives defenses fits with her speed and her craftiness, almost always finding that sliver of space to squeeze into the lane and get to the rim. Despite not being one of the biggest guards in the league, Irwin is one of the top finishers in the lane and does not shy away from contact. She also has great vision and her ability to draw the defense will provide open looks for her teammates, including Emily Piergustavo, who returns after missing last winter with a shoulder injury. The Hawks are a sleeper team in the Davenport division this year, but teams are well aware of the impact Irwin can have and will be focused on trying to stop her.

Carli Koffinke, Senior – Franklin

The senior shooting guard, who is in her third season on the varsity team, will be asked to take on more responsibility for the Panthers this season with the graduation of leading scorers Lauren Rudolph and Aubrie Kutil. Koffinke has shown the ability to be a dangerous threat for Franklin from beyond the arc but she can also take the ball off the dribble to make things happen going to the basket. As she develops on the defensive end, Koffinke can guard several positions and is a solid rebounder, particularly on the offensive end of the floor, and she will be another ball-handler to help new point guard Margaux Welsh against opponents that like to press high up the court. As one of five seniors on the Franklin roster, Koffinke will have to provide leadership on both ends of the floor but has the potential for a breakout season and could help the Panthers make another trip to the tournament.

Jordan Motley, Junior – Stoughton

The junior forward is one of the key returning players for the Black Knights and will be counted on to provide more scoring punch now that last year’s league-leading scorer Alecia Quinones is putting up points for UMass Boston. Motley is a strong interior defender and rebounder, who at times last season could be dominant in the paint. She also has quick feet and good post moves on the offensive end, but at times finishing could be an issue for her and classmate Val Whalen and that will be a big area for her to improve this winter. Motley’s (and Whalen’s) quickness and ability to get out and run the break could be a huge weapon for Stoughton and her continued development will play a big role in whether or not the Black Knights can get into the playoffs for the first time under second-year head coach Charmaine Steele-Jordan.

Samantha Pierce, Junior – Attleboro

The junior forward had a breakout season last year, being named to the HockomockSports.com Third Team and All-Underclassman Team. Pierce gave Emily Houle and Sarah Deyo that all-important third scorer and was always in solid position to grab rebounds, which is why she nearly averaged a double-double as a sophomore. Last season, Pierce averaged 10.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, while adding nearly two assists, a steal, and a block per game and shooting 82 percent from the free throw line. Pierce’s game stretches from the basket out beyond the three-point line, meaning teams can’t sink off her to help on Deyo in the paint or send her defender for a double-team. Pierce’s development helped Attleboro overcome early season injuries and stay in the league title hunt until the final day and also made the Bombardiers one of the hardest teams in the Hock to try and match up with.

Kayla Raymond, Junior – Oliver Ames

The junior forward will be the go-to player for the Tigers on offense this season, particularly after an injury ruled Francesca Calabraro out for the season. Raymond is coming off a stellar sophomore season in which she was named to the HockomockSports.com First Team and led the team with 10.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 41 percent from the floor, 37 percent from three and 79 percent from the line. Raymond also came through in big moments, like her game-winning drive to beat North Attleboro in the tournament. Her length and athleticism allows her to finish in the lane and be one of the top rim protectors in the league, while playing anywhere across the front line. OA won a league title and reached the TD Garden last year and for the Tigers to repeat that again this winter, Raymond will have to continue her development as one of the top players in the Hock.

Ashley Sampson, Junior – Foxboro

The junior guard, who was named this site’s Underclassman of the Year in 2015-16, took over primary ball-handling duties last season and ran the show for the Warriors with her ability to create, score, and defend. Sampson joined Kayla Raymond as one of two sophomores on the HockomockSports.com First Team last year and she continues to grow in stature and confidence heading into her third year on varsity. Sampson averaged more than 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists per game and shot 70 percent from the line last winter, reaching double figures in almost every game. The Warriors are loaded with youth, something that somehow seems to be said of them each season, and those players will be counting on Sampson to get the ball to the right spots and make sure that the Foxboro offense is clicking. She also adds rebounding, for a team that continues to lack size in the paint, and is a solid on-the-ball defender.

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Josh Perry

Josh Perry is the Managing Editor of HockomockSports.com. He can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
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