The girls’ basketball team will begin its quest for a fourth straight Tri-Valley League title in Norton on Tuesday, Dec. 13 – tipping off the 2011-2012 season with goals much larger than a league title.
“The goal is to win a state championship,” said Medfield girls’ basketball head coach Mark Nickerson. “Winning the league has been nice, it’d be nice to win the league again but Hopkinton didn’t win the league and ended up playing in the [TD Garden]. I would have traded places with them. They can have the league this year, we’ll take the state championship.”
The 2011-2012 Warriors will have a much different look to its first unit as the team lost four starters from a year ago to graduation. Medfield lost the leadership and experience of point guard Kate Wasley, center Natalie Dickinson, 3-point specialist Emily Collins and guard Maddie Bouchard. As a result, this year’s team is young, with no seniors currently in the program. That, in some ways, has Nickerson excited of both the present and future of Warriors girls’ basketball at MHS.
“This is a two-year team,” Nickerson said. “We don’t have any seniors. The team that I have this year, everybody is coming back [next year] so this isn’t really just about this year’s goals; this is about goals as a group. What can we accomplish? The goal is to win as many state championships as possible with the kids that are currently here. That’s an exciting prospect ”
Leading these young and talented Warriors this season will be junior captains Jen Narlee and Ali Gold.
“I really feel like we have great leadership on this team,” Nickerson said. “Our captains, Jen and Ali Gold are very well respected by their teammates, obviously well-respected by their coaches and I really look forward to them leading us in the right direction.”
Here’s a capsule look at the 2011-2012 team:
2010-2011 Record: 20-3, 18-0
Tri-Valley League Finish: First (second straight unbeaten season and third straight TVL title)
How 2010-2011 Ended: Lost to Bishop Feehan, 50-40 in the quarterfinal round of the MIAA Division 2 South Sectional State Tournament. Medfield earned the first seed in the sectional tournament.
Head Coach: Mark Nickerson
Key players: Jen Narlee, Ali Gold, Lauren Petit, Kristen Fechtelkotter, Kate Thomas.
Key losses: Natalie Dickinson, Kate Wasley, Hillary Collins, Maddie Bouchard.
Season Opener: Tuesday, Dec. 13 at Norton, 6:30 p.m.
Notes: The team hosted a basketball jamboree on Saturday, Dec. 5 at Blake Middle School and Nickerson said he liked what he saw early from his team’s defense. “We played Franklin, Wellesley, Scituate, Quincy … these are big schools, they’re talented teams that have had successful programs for a long time and I know it’s early in the season and teams struggle on offense early in the season but defensively we did a nice job. We held those teams, limited offensive opportunities and played good, all-around team defense, both in the zone and man and half-court and full-court pressure.”
Nickerson said the team’s focus in practice leading up to the Dec. 13 season opener will be making smart, confident decisions with the basketball.
"I think youth leads to a little bit of indecision with the basketball, we want to take better care of the basketball," Nickerson said. "Making better decisions with the ball. It's not necessarily physical mistakes but more mental mistakes."
In terms of offensive improvement, Nickerson wants his team to be more consistent finding ways to score.
"[Offensively], we certainly struggled last year against Feehan in the state tournament and we need to be a little bit more deliberate about what we are trying to do on offense in terms of who we want to get the ball to and what we are trying to do in terms of our half-court offense," Nickerson said. "We have always been kind of a pressure and fast-break team and we are learning quickly that there are teams that can stay with that."