What A Year It Has Been Part I: Girls Basketball

Happy Sunday Everyone! It’s hard to believe that the winter sports season has just over a month left to go. That saying, “time flies when you’re having fun,” is actually true, and is in full fruition this year with the action these student-athletes have been providing us fans. What a year it has been thus far! I’m going to bring back my blog for this final stretch. With all this excitement, it’s hard not to! Some people will agree, most will not, but hey, it is what it is, right? Here are some of my thoughts from this season on the New Hampshire side of the river. Today, we will start with Girls Basketball.

Things are shaping out just about where we thought they would. You can’t start this topic unless you start with Colebrook and Woodsville. Both teams are undefeated, and both teams have basically, other than a game here and there, been untouchable. I’m really looking forward to this one on Thursday. Led by Sage Smith and Samantha Howe, Colebrook offensively is doing exactly what everyone has said they would do, dominate. Both Sage and Sam are averaging over 20 a game and complement each other very well. The questions that I had at the beginning of the season about this team, are starting to be answered. Question #1: Who will be that third wheel to step up offensively with Smith and Howe, because we all know, in big games in Plymouth, you need it. Answer to Question #1: In my opinion, two girls have stepped up and shown they’re ready to take over more responsibility offensively. Mackenzie Scherer, The General in my opinion, has been one of those girls. We all knew about her fire, her leadership, and her point guard abilities. This year, she is starting to knock down the deep ball, and that is major for this team. You can’t leave her wide open, as she will knock it down. Very pleasant addition to her game. The second girl is Ariana Lord. It has been fun to watch Ariana improve her game over the last year as she enters her freshman year. She has added a mid-range game, and she is in complete control of the basketball this year when it’s in her hands, which was an issue for her last year. If she can pop in 10-12 points a game, this makes Colebrook that much tougher. Question #2: Will Colebrook stay out of foul trouble, which has been an issue for them over the last five years? Answer to Question #2: This was something they could NOT afford, especially Howe or Smith. They have 9 girls and play 6. The 6 that have been playing, however, have played very smart defensively. I don’t think they’ve been in foul trouble at all this year. Now, most of their games have been blowouts, so foul trouble is irrelevant, I get it. But the point is, they’ve improved on this tremendously, and when that defense is clicking and they get teams turning the ball over to the extent they had Littleton doing it last Wednesday, check mate, 20-point win for Colebrook against anyone. Their defense, in my opinion, is the key to the whole championship equation. They do it to their capability, they will be the 2019-2020 NHIAA Division IV Girls Basketball State Champions. Question #3: Will they stay healthy, considering their depth? Answer to Question #3: They have so far (knock on wood for the rest of the year). These girls are in shape and know they must be. This will be something to watch for as the season progresses. Every team so far has run into an injury/sickness bug, except Colebrook. All the bounces have fell their way so far. This is an exciting team to watch. In my opinion, the favorites to win this year’s title!

Then there’s Woodsville. In my opinion, the best man to man defensive Girls Basketball team I’ve seen in the last 20 years. They are phenomenal. They talk, they rotate, they’re in your face, they’re ferocious, they’re fast, they’re strong, and they’re determined. Coach Wilcox leads the way from the sidelines, and they RESPOND. This is going to be the interesting matchup going into Thursday. The Woodsville defense vs. the Colebrook offense. Colebrook has scored less than 50 points one time (in the struggle win in the rivalry game with Groveton). Woodsville is giving up 27 points a game. THAT is unheard of. It would be lower, but in most of the games, during garbage time, teams leave their starters in against them when their starters are on the bench, and they get that point total up. The thing with this defense more importantly, is they have match ups for Colebrook. Like Colebrook, these girls are ALL athletes. Emily Prest shuts down every guard she faces. She will have her toughest guard of the year in Sage Smith on Thursday. I can’t wait to see this. Graci Kaiser is very quick and handles guards easily as well. The other match up we will see, at least I think we will see, is Olivia Sarkis vs. Samantha Howe. Sarkis is all over the place. These two have similar builds, and identical fire. You also have Morgan Wagstaff who can guard any position, any size, any quickness. She’ll assist Prest and Sarkis when needed. McKenzie Dennis is one of the best defenders down low. She will be physical with Lord, so Ariana will have to be ready for that. Offensively, Woodsville is starting to hit their shots from deep, which could mean bad news for opponents. Kaiser and Mackenzie Kingsbury have both stepped up very nicely from deep. Sarkis is always dominate in the paint, and Prest gets into the paint from outside. Another thing these Woodsville girls do is they crash the boards offensively HARD. If you don’t block them out, they will be tallying offensive rebound after offensive rebound. If they click offensively, to go along with that defense, they will be one tough team to beat, as they have been all year long.

Littleton, even after the loss of a huge chunk of their State Championship team from last year, is STILL in the mix, and I am not surprised one bit. Coach Prior is one of the best in the state, and he has his teams prepared every game. Jasmine Brown has been phenomenal, as expected. One of the best athletes in the state. What’s her vertical leap anyways? Can someone tell me? She guards girls a foot taller than her and she still blocks their shots. Nice player. Enjoy watching her. Lauren McKee has stepped up from deep. They all mesh so well, and that points directly back to coaching. This team will not be an easy out. Mark my word on that! They’ve got a revenge game tomorrow which NSN will be at. This will be a big game for them in terms of picking up that extra point for tie breakers. They lost by one in Game #1. They want that second one. Will be fun to cover!

Groveton is right there and trying to break that door down. Katelyn Desilets is one of my favorite players to watch up here. She works hard on the boards. It seems like she is everywhere for them, and she is. She gets to the basket and is their leader. If she is clicking offensively, Groveton is tough to beat. I love how Bethany Whiting has added the three-point shot to her resume. Coach Haskins has said she’s improved on that part of her game, and it’s showed. Nodia Davenport can make noise too. They have played Colebrook tough for three games, all three of them for three quarters. They just haven’t gotten over that hump for the fourth quarter, but key word is, yet. Groveton and Coach Haskins are no strangers to winning championships. There’s one thing you can’t do with this team, and that is ignore them. I’m telling you, if you do, they will hurt you. It’s a match up nobody will want to see in the first or second rounds of the playoffs!

Pittsburg-Canaan has been slowly, under the radar, putting together a great season under Head Coach Matt Jordan. To this point, they have won every game that they should have, and lost every game that they should have. They’ve got a big one on Tuesday against Groveton. This game will be the difference between a home game and a road game in the Prelims for them potentially. Believe it or not, 12-6 might not get them a home court game because of the tie breakers. It’s not out of the question, but they can do it. This is a fun group of girls to watch. They are up and coming and had their first home playoff game in Soccer and won. They play defense and work hard. If they can get the offensive side of things clicking, look out.

At the Division III level, WMRHS is putting together a nice season. Here’s an interesting stat. WMRHS is 8-1 against Division III competition. 2-3 against Division IV competition. This Division is WIDE open and WMRHS WILL be in the hunt. Lily Kenison, as we expected, has been consistently providing offense for this team all year. McKenzie Treamer has been phenomenal for this team in spurts, too. Avi Challinor leads their break and defense, creates turnovers, runs the floor, and gets to the bucket. She has been huge for WMRHS this year. WMRHS currently sits at the six seed, but with help, and wins, can move up. They’ve got the big one on Monday which, as I said, NSN will have, then they have three games after that where they will be the favorite. 13-5 should keep them in the top 6. 14-4 though could get them a Top 5, and you know that’s what Coach Boyko is aiming for. They are my sleeper in Division III. I can see them at Keene State College in the Final Four, especially with their Division III resume.

As for the big one on Thursday in Colebrook between the two top dogs, here’s my prediction. You can’t make everyone happy in this world we live in today, and I’m sure I’ll have some people upset with this prediction. Woodsville matches up VERY well with Colebrook. Colebrook is starting to click defensively. The matchups individually are going to be very fun to watch. Coach Wilcox will have his girls ready to go. But that Colebrook coaching staff will also have theirs ready to go. Superstar power everywhere, and we can’t wait! Final Score, Colebrook 58 Woodsville 44. Yeah, you read that right. I see Colebrook having too much on their home floor in front of what will be a packed house. The difference? The improvement of Colebrook’s defense as this year has progressed, and I feel they will bring it in full force on Thursday. I feel it will be close, but eventually Colebrook will pull away at the end. Here are some other predictions from local basketball minds around the north country: Gary Jenness (16 Time State Champion Coach at Groveton and threw one in at WMRHS too): Colebrook 49, Woodsville 40. Lance Legere (NH Sportspage Girls Basketball Correspondent): Colebrook 55, Woodsville, 44. Michael Beniash (Caledonian Record Sports Editor): Colebrook 51, Woodsville 46. Corey McKean (Littleton Courier Sports Editor): Woodsville 48, Colebrook 43. There you have it! According to this particular group, Colebrook heads in as the favorite. Looking forward to the game!

I’d also like to take the time to publicly congratulate Samantha Howe and Sage Smith on becoming the newest members of the 1,000 point club. I’ve congratulated them already personally, but I found this fitting as well. These two are special. They became the third and fourth players to reach the 1,000 point mark in their Junior year at Colebrook Academy. They work hard during the off season, and it shows. They are great girls too. You don’t find too many players like them anymore, who dedicate the time and effort that they do. If you continue to bring that work ethic that you have for the game into life, you will go anywhere you want! Congratulations, and welcome to the club!

Tuesday I’ll have my thoughts on Boys Basketball, and Wednesday Boys & Girls Hockey! Looking forward to the final stretch of the season! This week is going to be FILLED with big games on NSN. NSN will be at the Littleton vs. WMRHS Doubleheader tomorrow, up in Canaan, VT for the Gorham vs. Pittsburg-Canaan Doubleheader on Wednesday, and Thursday up in Colebrook for the highly anticipated Woodsville vs. Colebrook Doubleheader. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their Sunday!