By Gianna Addario
---- — As the 2013-14 season kicked into full gear this week, we are reminded of the many coaching changes that have taken place over the past nine months.
Three teams have welcomed new head coaches into their respective programs as Beverly, Marblehead and Pingree start the season under new management.
Allison Flynn was announced as the Panthers’ new head coach back in July after Matt Smith stepped down after 13 years at Beverly.
Flynn is 2001 graduate of Salem High, where she scored more than 1,400 career points for the Witches. Prior to coming to Beverly, she was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Saint Anselm’s women’s basketball team in Manchester, N.H. She also held the same role at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont for a year.
Beverly, which hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010, went a combined 16-44 over the last three years, but is looking to put that kind of numbers behind them and start with a clean slate. Flynn and the Panthers will open up the season tonight against her former high school team at home.
Marblehead’s Wayne Hanscom moved over from the boys’ team to start coaching the girls. He takes over for Skip Likins, who coached the Magicians for four seasons. Hanscom led the Marblehead boys for eight years and before that coached at neighboring Salem High for 17 years.
“I’m taller than a lot of the girls, which is great and I love it,” Hanscom joked about the difference between coaching the boys and girls teams. “The girls are real good listeners; they soak things in. When they make a mistake, they move onto the next play.”
He brings 25 years of experience to the position while his assistant, Dave Pliner, had two daughters of his own go through the Magicians’ program.
The season couldn’t have started any better for Marblehead, which won its first two games by significant margins. “The girls want to win,” Hanscom said. “They’re really buying into our system. We play 10-11 girls a game because we’re running and pressing the entire time. We have to work on everything.”
While the Magicians carry nine upperclassmen, Hanscom plans on giving the four freshmen on his roster significant minutes. Freshman Lindsay Walker started in Wednesday’s 40-21 victory over Swampscott and contributed eight points.
”All of them are going to play. We want (the freshmen) to break a sweat early and get everyone involved,” noted Hanscom.
Marblehead should be among the top teams in the Northeastern Conference South this winter along with Winthrop and Gloucester. Senior captains Emily Freedland and McKenna Barrett are looking to make their first postseason tournament appearance since their sophomore seasons.
”To be honest, we’re just concerned about ourselves,” added Hanscom. “It’s a quick season; games come up in a hurry and we’re just looking to improve. (It’s) the old cliche: we’re taking it one game a time.”
Pingree also had a new bench boss as John McPhearson begins his inaugural season coaching with the Highlanders. He is quite familiar with the Eastern Independent League, having previously coached at Lexington Christian Academy for 16 years as the boys coach and also coached the girls for five. At LCA he won EIL titles and a NEPSAC championship.
The Highlanders are off to a 3-1 start and have won three straight after dropping their season opener.
BIG GAME ALERT: Peabody will square off against NEC rival Lynn English tonight at home (7 p.m.).
The Tanners’ first win of the season Monday nigh, 52-25 over Revere, was a solid stepping-stone heading into tonight’s showdown. While Peabody returns its entire team from a year ago, the Bulldogs do as well — making for a very interesting matchup.
The Bulldogs are led by a trio of seniors — Diondra Woumn, Catherine Stinson and Deidra Newson — who all had impressive games against Peabody last season. English took both meetings between the two, but the Tanners are looking to change that this time around.
”I’ll take beating them anywhere, home or on the road,” said Peabody head coach Jane Heil. “I see English as the team to beat.”
Carolyn Scacchi, Olivia Summit, Alex Lomasney, Courtney Bua and Sara Hosman have played well early on for the Tanners, along with newcomer freshman Melissa Gray.
Masconomet (home against Triton) and Danvers (at Winthrop) were supposed to be the final two area teams to play their first game of the season, but after Tuesday’s snow cancellations Beverly will make its debut tonight (home against Salem) as well.
Peabody, Hamilton-Wenham, Ipswich, Marblehead and Bishop Fenwick all had wins on their opening games of the season.
Be sure to check out next week’s Bounce Passes for a list of the area’s leading scorers.
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.