Division 1 girls basketball preview

Andover looks for repeat of stellar season

By Emily Wright
Globe Correspondent / December 17, 2010

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After Andover electrified crowds from the TD Garden to the DCU Center in the final days of the 2009-2010 season, the defending Division 1 champion is looking for a repeat of a phenomenal year.

The Golden Warriors have jumped out to a 4-0 start this season, but they’ll have to get through competitors like Merrimack Valley rival Central Catholic and South powerhouses Mansfield, Newton North, and New Bedford before they can celebrate again in March.

Andover coach Jim Tildsley is returning three starters in All-Scholastics Natalie Gomez-Martinez, Nicole Boudreau and Ally Fazio, all captains. He’s confident about adding some other players to the mix who had significant varsity experience from the bench last year.

Tildsley touts Gomez, a 5-foot-7-inch senior and junior Nicole Boudreau (5-8) as two of the best guards in the state. Boudreau hit 1,000 points in her 52d game of her career on Tuesday night against Methuen, becoming the fastest player in school history to reach the milestone.

“If we continue to play like we are, we can have a very good season,” Tildsley said.

Boudreau, who verbally committed to Boston College, is the tallest player on the Golden Warriors. Since height isn’t in his favor, Tildsley thinks that the team’s edges comes from their athleticism.

“Our whole game is pressing the court, defensivley. We like to run the ball and push the ball,” Tildsley said. “We’ve got a small scrappy team. We like to play and put a lot of defensive pressure on the opposition.”

Central Catholic, which one the 2008-09 state title, will look like a different yet equally talented squad according to coach Sue Downer. The Raiders graduated All-Scholastic Super Teamer Katie Zenevitch (Boston College) in June after a 21-3 season overall and a 12-2 performance in the MVC. Zenevitch averaged 18 points, 13 rebounds 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game.

“Katie was obviously the presence on the court,” Downer said. “This year we’re a much more evenly distributed team. There’s much more athleticism. We’re going to be a very fun team to watch.”

Central Catholic seniors Gabie Polce and Melissa Miller are back. Both averaged over 10 points per game last year. Downer has four freshman on varsity, a first for the 15-year coach.

“I think we’re going to be as competitive, just a different type of competitive,” Downer added.

Zenevitch led the team to the Division 1 North Sectionals last year, but Andover took home the win with a 69-65 overtime victory. Andover went on to the Division 1 State semifinals, toppling Division 1 South Champion Mansfield, 60-52, before taking home the crown against East Longmeadow with a resounding 73-37 win.

Mike Redding coached Hockomock leader Mansfield to an unprecedented season (19-9, 10-6) and a berth in the State Tournament. Redding, who also coached the Hornets to a Division 2 football title at Gillette Stadium December 4, is making some major changes in his coaching style.

Mansfield will look to rebound from losing scoring leader Jess Eason by perfecting the 3-point game, a strategy that Redding discouraged last year.

“This year we’re encouraging the perimeter shot,” Redding said. “We can go ten deep this year.”

Look for 6-1 senior Colleen Copley to dominate the post, while Michaela Bowes and Tory Shannon add numbers in points and assists.

The Hornets took down Bay State (Herget) champion Wellesley in a Division 1 South semifinals upset. The Raiders were the No. 1 seed in the tournament, but lost 54-47 in the quest. Blake Dietrick is back at the helm for Wellesley. The 5-10 senior averaged 20 points per game and shot over 50 percent from trey.

Dietrick committed to play basketball at Princeton on October 10.

Bay State (Carey) competitor Newton North made it to last year’s Division 1 South semifinals but lost to Durfee, 53-47.

“I think that last year’s team was a team that raised expectations and got 19 wins,” coach Hank DeSantis said. “We’re returning 10 kids from that team, including two starters.”

Newton North will boast four seniors and a junior in its starting five. The Tigers will round out the bench with two other juniors, three sophomores and three freshman, “all of which are very talented,” according to DeSantis.

Junior Gracie Rolfe is back, who scored 21 points against Franklin in the South tournament last year coming off the bench. The Tigers have senior leadership from center Megan Gentile and Jamie Renner, and look for big things from freshman transfer Inifiniti Waheed-Thomas who hales from Buffalo, N.Y.

“I think that we’ve over the last couple of years, we’ve improved significantly,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis is in his third year at Newton North, where he coached the team to a 19-4, 15-2 record last year. The Tigers had 15 combined wins over three seasons prior to DeSantis’ start.


Starting 5

A preseason look at the top players in Division 1 girls’ basketball

G — Blake Dietrick, Wellesley

G — Nicole Boudreau, Andover

G — Natalie Gomez-Martinez, Andover

F — Melissa Miller, Central Catholic

C — Colleen Copley, Mansfield