By HockomockSports.com Staff
2014-15 Record: 4-16 (2-14)
2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Jim Choquette
There has been significant progress made in the three years that Jim Choquette has been in charge of the program and he is hoping that this year “will be another step forward” for the Bulldogs. Canton comes into this winter with momentum after winning four games down the stretch of last season and, as Choquette explained, narrowly missing out on a handful of other wins.
Senior captains Meaghan Hunter (who did not play high school basketball until her sophomore year) and Shannon Foley will be the leaders of the team and counted on to get the team into its offense. Junior Emma Murphy is back for her third season on varsity and she continues to develop as a post player. As Choquette noted, Murphy has already started 40 games in her Bulldogs career, so experience is not an issue.
Junior Casey Shea will join Murphy in the post and she is another player that continues to develop. Sophomore Hannah Jerrier had a big season with her AAU team at Mass Premier and Choquette thinks that she is primed for a breakout season along with classmate Jess Powers, who emerged at the tail end of last season.
The Bulldogs will also look to incorporate a pair of freshmen into the system with Erin Devine, who Choquette said has already grown to 6-foot-3, and incoming point guard Julia Hamilton, who may be a star in the making.
“There’s a lot of buzz about this team,” he said. “The girls have really bought into the system. Now we just have to learn how to win those close games.”
2014-15 Record: 21-3 (14-2)
2014-15 Finish: Reached the Div. 2 South final
Head Coach: Lisa Downs
Experienced is not generally an adjective used when describing a team that is going to start four sophomores at the beginning of the season, but all four of the underclassmen in Foxboro’s starting lineup saw significant playing time during the Warriors’ run to the sectional final last year. With HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and Hock MVP Kat Tamulionis graduated, the ball is now going to be in the hands of these young players and they will be given every opportunity to produce.
The primary ball-handler will be sophomore Ashley Sampson. Sampson had a breakout rookie season in which she became one of Foxboro’s best weapons off the bench and showed no fear against even the best teams in the league and the state. Classmate Lily Sykes will join her in the backcourt and adds another good shooter and defender at the guard position. Cassidy Harrison will be the lone senior in the starting five and will provide shooting on the wing.
Sophomore Grace Tamulionis showed tons of potential last season and is a versatile forward that can step back and shoot and has the size to crash the boards. She will be joined in the post by classmate Shannon Smalley, who head coach Lisa Downs said had a great summer. Downs also noted that junior Lauren Flahive could come off the bench as a defensive option and senior Carolynn Will is another option as a shooter at the forward position.
Foxboro could see a big boost a couple of weeks into the season if junior small forward Kristen Bortolotti returns from a concussion suffered during soccer. In the meantime, Downs has no concerns about turning to her underclassmen. She said, “It’s so important that they had a year of experience. Kat [Tamulionis] was good for them because she had confidence in them and they played like it.”
2014-15 Record: 7-13 (5-11)
2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: T.J. Dolliver
Milford enters a new season with a new coach. T.J. Dolliver moves into his first head coaching position at the high school level, after being an assistant for boys’ coach Paul Seaver, and he is “excited” by the potential that the Hawks have shown in the opening weeks of practice and during the opening game of the season (a 44-21 win over Hopedale).
There is only one senior on the roster, but the Hawks gained a lot of experience last year. The focal point for the Hawks offense (and for opposing defenses) will be sophomore guard Kate Irwin. The dynamic lefty has quickness, vision, and shooting touch and she provides Milford with a spark on both ends of the floor. She will get plenty of help from junior forwards Nicole Dahlgren, Christine Pye and Brianna Croteau.
The lone senior on the roster is Jill Powers, who knocked down a couple of threes in the season opener. Sophomore forward Gill Valanzola will add depth at the forward position and junior guards Emma Liskov and Jill Burley will give Irwin help in the backcourt. Dolliver is also hoping to get sophomore Emily Piergustavo back at some point this season to help the Hawks spread the floor with her shooting.
Dolliver appreciates the depth and versatility in the Hawks roster this season and is already worried about making sure he spreads the minutes around to get everyone a chance on the court. “It’s exciting being at the head of the program,” said Dolliver. “We’re having a lot of fun. It’s about defense first and we make sure to keep them working hard.”
2014-15 Record: 12-9 (10-6)
2014-15 Finish: Reached the Div. 2 South first round
Head Coach: Elaine Clement-Holbrook
The Tigers finished second behind Foxboro in the Davenport last year and expectations are high that this Oliver Ames team will challenge the Warriors again this winter. Team chemistry seems to be as high as ever in the Tigers group with a smaller roster of just nine players that have battled illnesses and other obstacles during the two weeks of preseason practice. Head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook is hoping that her team will rally around each other and can make a good start to the season.
Although she has missed a few days of practice with illness, junior Francesca Calabraro is going to be the player that OA counts on the most this season. Calabraro was the team’s leading scorer last season and also one of the league’s best in picking up steals. Calabraro is lethal on the break and that is a key to how the Tigers like to play. Sophomore Kayla Raymond, who saw plenty of time as a rookie, has shown the potential of being a top scorer and a force on both ends of the court.
Senior captain Kaitlyn McCarthy was credited with holding things together for the Tigers during the tumultuous opening weeks of practice and she is joined in the leadership role by fellow captain Sam Bamford who is a tenacious defender at the point guard position. Junior forward Niyera Mitchell gives the Tigers size and athleticism in the middle. Hannah Carroll and Abby Reardon will add depth at the guard position.
There may not be a lot of players on the varsity roster this season for OA, but Clement-Holbrook believes this may be the closest her team has been. She said, “There is a lot of energy in the gym and a level of enthusiasm that shows they want to be out there. I hope the players can come together and find support from each other on the court.”
2014-15 Record: 5-15 (4-12)
2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Cliff Tomassian
In his first season in charge, Cliff Tomassian took over a program that had reached the sectional final at UMass Boston for the first time in decades but one that lost its three best players including HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Karlie O’Driscoll. The Eagles were competitive throughout the season, particularly on defense, but struggled on the offensive end and missed the tournament, something Tomassian believes can change this winter.
If Sharon is going to improve on offense and make a charge at the postseason then the Eagles will need a full season out of senior forward Alyssa Piazza. The team’s leading scorer last year has missed portions of each of the last two seasons, but when she is on the court is a strong post scorer and dominant rebounder. Tomassian said, “When she’s on the court, she’s one of our most productive players.”
Sophomore guard Shira Stoller will also be back this year and Tomassian has urged the point guard to look for her own shot more and take some of the pressure off Piazza. With a point guard that can get to the basket and a forward that can score in the post, the perimeter should open up for Sharon and that is where seniors Ashley Mukasa and Charlotte Ransom can excel as spot up shooters.
The Eagles will once again be counting on young players to acclimate to the varsity level quickly, including sophomore Jessica Allan and freshmen Emma Eberhardt and Veronica Wallace. “Once the girls get used to the physicality of the varsity level we’ll be fine,” explained Tomassian. “Our expectation is making the tournament.”
2014-15 Record: 3-14 (3-13)
2014-15 Finish: Missed playoffs
Head Coach: Charmaine Steele-Jordan
After three decades in charge, Janet Sullivan stepped down as the head coach at Stoughton and the program turned to someone who knows all about the program to step in this winter. Former Stoughton player and 1,000 point scorer Charmaine Steele-Jordan, who played at Quinnipiac and was an assistant coach at Boston University, takes over and had already brought a buzz to the Black Knights heading into the season. “There couldn’t have been a better place to fall,” said Jordan about the chance to take over at her alma mater.
Senior Alecia Quinones gives Steele-Jordan a weapon to work around. The forward has the size to match up with opposing post players and the athleticism to match up with wings. On offense she also adds versatility with an improving jump shot and good moves on the block. Fellow senior Jess Greer is the primary ball-handler and can also knock down the three.
Senior forward Ava Seigel is the third captain this season and is another important cog on both ends of the floor. Senior Bridgette Whalen and sophomore Valerie Whalen will add more size and strength in the paint for the Black Knights. Defense was always a strength of Stoughton and that will certainly continue under the new coach.
Last season, the Black Knights struggled in the half-court offense and Steele-Jordan has already introduced a much higher pace to the team during the first couple weeks of practice and is hoping that Stoughton can get up and down the court to get points in transition. She explained, “We want to get up and down the floor and only set up when we have to. We want to be able to press and try different things this year.”
For a list of 10 Players to Watch in Hockomock League girls’ basketball this season, click here.