Players are listed alphabetically
Ali Brigham, Sophomore – Franklin
With a relatively inexperienced roster, Franklin got off to a tough, 0-6 start during the 2016-2017 season, but the Panthers started to gel, went on a run to close out the year, and narrowly missed out on a playoff spot. One of the keys to that turnaround was the play of then-freshman center Ali Brigham, who displayed a range of moves in the post that belied her inexperience at the varsity level. She finished with 236 points as a freshman. Brigham was also a standout defender, blocking 56 shots as a rookie, and an imposing rebounder, pulling down 237 last year. The reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year is listed at 6-foot-3 this winter and has already been receiving Div. I college offers. She has the potential to be a dominant force in the paint for the Panthers, who are looking to challenge defending champ Mansfield for the Kelley-Rex title this season.
Emma Eberhardt, Junior – Sharon
Sharon has a new coach and a new-look roster this winter, but the one mainstay for the Eagles is Emma Eberhardt. The junior wing was the team’s leading scorer in 2016-17, averaging more than 14 points per game, despite regularly facing the opposition’s best defender and constant double teams. Eberhardt was also one of Sharon’s top rebounders, using her size to make plays in the paint while having the range to step out and stretch the floor for first-year coach Sandra Lombardi’s offense. Eberhardt got off to an impressive start to this season, scoring 16 in a big win at Nipmuc to give her coach a winning start, and there is the potential for last year’s All-Underclassman Team performer to take another leap this season and become one of the league’s most consistent wing scorers.
The loss of point guard Jen Peel will be a tough one to overcome for Mansfield because of her ability to get the Hornets into their offensive sets and her ability to get the ball to senior center Meg Hill in good scoring positions. Hill, listed at 6-foot-3, can dominate the paint for Mansfield but will be counting on her teammates to get her touches in the post, so that she can show off her growing array of moves, including her improved range out to 8-10 feet. Hill, a HockomockSports.com First Team selection last year, is already second on Mansfield’s all-time list for rebounds and the all-time leader in blocks (with 293). The Stonehill University-commit added to those totals against Medfield in the season opener pulling down 10 boards and blocking three shots. If Hill can continue to improve and stay aggressive on offense, it could be the difference that earns Mansfield a third straight league title and possibly a return to the Div. 1 South final.
Kate Irwin, Senior – Milford
Milford reached the playoffs last winter for the first time since 2012 and nearly pulled off a first round upset at Marlboro. One of the keys to the resurgence for the Hawks has been point guard Kate Irwin, who has been a dynamic scorer and playmaker for Milford since she jumped onto varsity four years ago. The lefty has the quickness and the handle to get wherever she wants on the floor and combines strong finishing at the rim with the range to knock down shots from deep. This makes her a very tough cover and also opens space for her teammates. Milford has some experience on the roster, as many of the Hawks have been on varsity for several seasons, and a mix of shooters and versatile forwards that play to Irwin’s strengths. If Irwin can continue to develop into one of the league’s elite perimeter scorers (she averaged 16 points per game last year), then it could be a quick return to the postseason for Milford this winter.
Hannah Jerrier, Senior – Canton
One of the reasons for optimism for Canton this winter is the return of senior forward Hannah Jerrier, who was one of the league’s most consistent post scorers in 2016-2017, and was a potential double-double every night. Jerrier averaged 16.5 points per game last year and pulled down more than nine rebounds per night. Nine times last year, Jerrier scored more than 20 points in a game, despite being the main focus of every opponent’s defensive plan. With a quick first step, good size to shoot over defenders, and the tenacity to get the ball to the rim, Jerrier has become a standout on the offensive side of the floor and has also developed into a strong rim protector and elite rebounder for the Bulldogs. Her growth as a presence in the paint will be a key for Canton this winter as they seek a postseason berth.
Shannon O’Connor, Junior – King Philip
King Philip will have a new coach this season, as Amy Siggens steps in for Martin Crowley, and the new coach will inherit a standout scorer on the perimeter in junior Shannon O’Connor, who has already committed to play for Boston University. O’Connor is coming off a HockomockSports.com Third Team and All-Underclassman Team season, averaging more than 12 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals per game for a very young Warriors team. A guard who can shoot off the dribble and who is fearless taking the ball to the basket, O’Connor also showed good vision to find open teammates. As the Warriors continue to gain experience, O’Connor’s playmaking ability will be a key to the offense clicking and after a strong AAU campaign, expectations are high that O’Connor will become one of the league’s most consistent perimeter scorers this year.
Sam Pierce, Senior – Attleboro
As she enters her fourth year on the varsity, senior forward Samantha Pierce will finally have the opportunity to the be the focal point of the Attleboro offense. Sharing shots with the likes of Emily Houle, Sarah Deyo, and Julia Strachan over the last few seasons, Pierce enters the winter as the top returning scorer for the Bombardiers and as a versatile piece of new coach Martin Crowley’s offense. While playing as a power forward, Pierce has the range to stretch defenses beyond the three-point line and can take bigger players off the dribble. She has also developed into a strong presence on the glass and will be a contender for a double-double every night. In addition to being the top offensive weapon for Attleboro, Pierce will also have to step into the leadership void for a team that is relatively inexperienced with a number of new faces throughout the roster. This could be a breakout season for the forward, who was on the HockomockSports.com Third Team as a sophomore.
Kayla Raymond, Senior – Oliver Ames
For the past three seasons, since she broke out as a freshman for the Tigers, senior forward Kayla Raymond has made this site’s list of players to watch and has come into each of those seasons as a potential MVP or player of the year candidate. The Stonehill University-commit is one of the most versatile players in the league, with range out to the three-point line, the handle to take defenders off the dribble, and the size and length to finish at the rim. Raymond is arguably the best leaper in the league as well, making her not only a threat on offense but one of the league’s top rebounders and one of its best rim protectors. This winter, Raymond is listed as a forward/center for head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook and there is the potential for Raymond to spend more time in the paint than in years past. This could be a boost to her scoring, as she is tough to guard when close to the basket, but expect OA to try and move her around and get her the ball as often as possible. If Raymond can put together a season like she is capable of, then OA could be in the running for the Kelley-Rex title.
Ashley Sampson, Senior – Foxboro
Reigning Hockomock League MVP and two-time HockomockSports.com First Team selection Ashley Sampson is hoping to lead Foxboro even further than last season’s trip to the TD Garden. With Sampson in the backcourt, the Warriors are among the team’s being talked about for a Div. 2 title. Sampson is a do-everything guard, who seems unstoppable when taking the ball to the basket. She finishes at the rim as well as anyone in the Hock and manages to get the ball to the hoop despite contact. Sampson, an Adelphi University-commit, is also an elite shooter with range beyond the arc and has been one of the team’s leading rebounders despite playing on the perimeter. Last year, she averaged 19 points and seven rebounds per game and was one of Foxboro’s top on-the-ball defenders, who has the size and speed to guard multiple positions. Having already passed the 1,000-point mark for her career and continuing to improve every season, Sampson has the potential to be one of the all-time greats for the Warriors and push Foxboro to even greater heights this winter.
Val Whalen, Senior – Stoughton
Stoughton likes to grind teams down with pressure defense, aggressive play on the glass, and by getting out on the break and few players embody the style implemented by head coach Charmaine Steele-Jordan than senior forward Val Whalen. The team’s leading scorer and rebounder from last season, Whalen was a HockomockSports.com Second Team selection by leading a very young Black Knights squad to within one win of the postseason. She averaged 13 points and nine rebounds per game last winter and every night had the potential to pull down a double-double. An athletic forward with long reach and the tenacity to go after every loose ball, Whalen will be counted on again to provide leadership for the still pretty young team. As her jump shot and finishing continue to improve, Whalen could become one of the league’s top post players this season and could be the key to helping Stoughton get back into the playoffs.
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