What a season for girls basketball on the North Shore.
For starters, seven of our local teams made it into the state tournament. Masconomet, Danvers and Bishop Fenwick made it to their respective quarterfinal rounds while Salem, Peabody and Hamilton-Wenham battled before falling in first round matchups.
Then there was Ipswich, which made another exceptional run in the Division 3 bracket but couldn’t get past perennial powerhouse Pentucket in the North semifinals. The Tigers (19-4) won their seventh Cape Ann League Small title in 10 seasons and head coach Mandy Carter-Zegarowski even earned her 150th career win behind the IHS bench.
Now that the 2012-13 season is in the history books, the big question is: what’s in store for next season?
Well, for starters, many of our local Northeastern Conference teams stay exactly the same, with only a handful of girls graduating from the teams.
For instance, Danvers will have all of its key components back with the exception of senior captain and leading scorer Kasey Sherry (13 points per game). She also led the area in 3-pointers made with 63 on the season.
Emily McNulty, Ashley Arnoldy, Devon Walsh and Hannah Llewellyn will all return for the Falcons, a team that peaked at the perfect time during the regular season to earn a tournament bid before taking took down NEC rival Gloucester in the first round of the playoffs. I expect that Danvers will make another postseason run next year.
Also in the NEC Small, Salem will benefit from some time off to grow. The Witches (10-11) were pretty banged up with injuries entering the tournament last month and played with six girls on the roster for the final portion of the regular season.
“No matter what five or combination I had out there, they always fought,” head coach John Fortunato said after a regular season loss to Peabody. “The kids play hard for us, and that’s all I can ask of them.”
Despite its lack of depth, Salem proved it can grind out wins and will most certainly be a threat with Rachael Zipper, Jackie Panneton, Arianna Gaffney and Brianna Rodriguez coming back.
I often wonder if Peabody would benefit from having another Division 1 program in the conference; they only faced one squad in the same postseason division during the regular season. The Tanners had their way with most NEC opponents (except for Lynn English), but were ousted early on in the Div. 1 North tournament by Methuen.
Peabody will be fully loaded again, as it had no seniors on this season’s team. Led by captain Carolyn Scacchi, the Tanners have a good opportunity to take what they’ve learned from this postseason and use it for next year’s run.
Keep an eye on Marblehead in 2013-14. Though the Magicians didn’t make the postseason this season, they certainly have a solid leader in leading scorer Emily Freedland.
Swampscott says goodbye to senior captain and NEC small MVP Ara Talkov, who will take her talents to Columbia University in the fall. Talkov led the area in scoring (16.3 ppg.) despite missing a good chunk of the season with an ankle injury.
Beverly seems to be the wild card for next season. Though the Panthers won just a third of their games this winter, they’re still a young team with plenty of room to grow and improve in 2013-14.
Bishop Fenwick always poses a unique threat because of the conference it plays in. The Catholic Central League is a group of fierce competitors with teams like Division 3 state champion Archbishop Williams, St. Mary’s and Arlington Catholic.
Though the Crusaders made it back to the tournament for the first time since 2011, they should be even stronger next year with mostly their entire roster returning, the majority of which is young talent.
In the Cape Ann League, Hamilton-Wenham is sure to take over where it left off this winter. With first-year head coach Jon DeMarco running the show, the Generals played competitive basketball throughout the season, even taking down powerhouse Masconomet on the road.
Whatever type of run the Generals make next season, they’ll have to do it without leading scorer Cassandra Fibbe, as she’ll graduate in the spring. Hamilton-Wenham will bring back Sue Rose, Haley Willis and Sam Charette and will continue to be dangerous from 3-point land.
Masconomet went through perhaps its biggest transition this past season, proving it could be dangerous with a new cast of faces in the lineup. Now, with three-year starter Claudia Marsh graduating, the Chieftains will once again need to recharge its core group of players, but that shouldn’t cause concern: the Chieftains will always be a threat to opponents with head coach Bob Romeo at the helm.
“We have a couple kids that can step up for us,” said Romeo. “You don’t replace Claudia or Abi (Rose) necessarily, but you do some other things that will help us. I think we’ll be OK.”
With players like Nicole Femino, Hannah Kiernan and Meg Collins back, Masconomet should be just fine in the CAL Large.
Ipswich will once again make adjustments with senior co-captain Julia Davis having played her final game. Though Davis and fellow captain Brigid O’Flynn will be difficult to replace, you have to be excited for what’s in store for sophomores Masey Zegarowski and Caroline Soucy.
Zegarowski is perhaps the area’s top player and continues to dazzle on the court. Soucy’s game has improved as she matured over the past year. Together with freshman Jenna Gagnon, the Tigers have an opportunity to make a lengthy tournament run with Pentucket moving up to Div. 2 next winter.
Bounce Passes, a column on North Shore girls basketball, runs in The Salem News every Friday during the winter season. Contact Gianna Addario at GAddario@salemnews.com, 978-338-2615 and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.
2012-2013 GIRLS BASKETBALL SCORING LEADERS Player Games Points Average Ara Talkov, Swampscott 14 228 16.3 Masey Zegarowski, Ipswich 23 338 14.7 Julia Davis, Ipswich 23 322 14.0 Kasey Sherry, Danvers 22 287 13.0 Nicole Femino, Masco 22 284 12.9 Carolyn Scacchi, Peabody 21 258 12.3 Emily Freedland, Marblehead 20 241 12.1 Cassandra Fibbe 19 222 11.9 Jackie Panneton 21 247 11.8 Hannah Kiernan, Masco 22 246 11.2 Three-point leaders: Kasey Sherry, Danvers 63; Masey Zegarowski, Ipswich 54; Arianna Gaffney, Salem 38; Jenna Gagnon, Ipswich 38; Emily Freedland, Marblehead 36.