---- — Jane Heil’s philosophy about this year’s Peabody team is simple — it’s more about the type of minutes you put into the game and less about who actually starts it.
Over the past six games, Heil has had to decide what girls will be in that night’s starting five. While the decision is never easy, it’s one that she’s happy to make given the amount of talent on the Tanners’ roster.
Luckily, Heil has a number of names to choose from.
Carolyn Scacchi, Alex Lomasney and Sara Hosman have started in all six games this season. Olivia Summit, Amanda Matthews, Courtney Bua and Melissa Gray have also taken turns as starters, based on what team Peabody is up against on any given night.
”We’ve been toying around with different combinations,” explained Heil, whose team takes a 4-2 record into tonight’s game vs. Marblehead. “I don’t see a big difference between position four and five, and six and seven. So we’re going back and forth and the letting the girls share the spots. They’re probably going to get the same minutes, anyway. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first five minutes or the last five minutes, it’s the quality of the minutes.”
Each player brings a different set of skills to the table and Heil is trying to figure which group or combination works best.
While seniors Scacchi and Lomasney have been fixtures in the lineup since their freshman years, other players like Hosman, Bua and Gray have played themselves into more prominent roles over the past year.
Hosman, the Tanners 5-foot-8 point guard, runs the offense with poise and efficiency. Though only a sophomore, Hosman made an immediate impact last year that left a lasting impression on her coach.
”She’s just come to another level (this season),” said Heil. “Sara has been living at the foul line and I can’t tell you how excited I am about that. She’s been great.”
The addition of Gray, a freshman, has been huge. She, Hosman and Bua all have the ability of hitting deep baskets , something the Tanners were missing in years past. Gray and Bua started the first four games of the season on the bench, but worked their way into the starting position.
”I started Courtney and Melissa against Beverly (earlier this week) because they’ve shown the consistency I’m looking for,” Heil explained. “Melissa has been a gift to this team. Her name has been in the boxscore this season and as a result, teams are going to play her tighter. I like the the way she plays, and she makes good decisions with the ball.”
Summit, meanwhile, is embracing her new role coming off the bench; she scored a season high 12 points in Wednesday’s 55-45 loss to Winthrop.
”We’ve been doing some post work and you can see her determination,” Heil said of Summit. “She had been struggling, but the work she’s put in paid big dividends on Wednesday. The highlight of that game was Olivia being back in a big way.”
As for Matthews, it’s her leadership and court sense that keeps her in the mix. The veteran coach is fond of veteran players and Matthews’ steady, smart play earned her the title of captain this season.
Fellow captains Scacchi and Lomasney are also more than reliable. Scacchi has developed into Peabody’s top offensive player and MVP, while Lomasney remains the defensive specialist.
“If the court is 94 feet long, Carolyn is going to play the entire 94 feet,” noted Heil. “And Alex is consistent. She’s in the top five in the stat categories I keep for the team.”
While the Tanners are off to a solid start, Heil is looking for them to get into a midseason rhythm. The recent snow days and vacation have disrupted their normal practice/game schedule, so they’re looking at their third game in five days tonight against Marlehead (5-1).
Peabody isn’t looking for complacency, either; as one of the stronger teams in the Northeastern Conference, it considers every school a legitimate threat.
”I’m worried about every team; that’s my job,” added Heil. “I’m always looking for more from girls and I tell them that every day in practice. There’s always room to do better — that’s what makes our program as successful as it is.”
Salem High junior guard Rachael Zipper made her return to the court last week for the first time since tearing her ACL this past summer.
Zipper, who was a major contributor for last year’s Witches, missed the first three games of the season but is slowly finding her rhythm. She scored four points in Monday’s double overtime loss to Lynn Classical
”She’s worked hard to get back,” said head coach John Fortunato. “She’s been pushing rehab and really wanted to come back. I certainly love what she bring to the team in terms of leadership and stability, it’s great to have her back.”
BIG GAME ALERT: The Masconomet/Newburyport game that was postponed last Friday because of the weather will be made up Wednesday, January 15 at 7 p.m.
Masconomet, which remains the only undefeated (6-0) team left in the Cape Ann League Large, plays four games in six days next week.
Marblehead’s 35-31 loss to Danvers on Monday was the first time all season the Magicians hadn’t scored more than 40 points in a contest. The Falcons held Marblehead to 13 points in the second half, handing their Northeastern Conference South foe its first loss of the winter.
By the end of December, the Magicians were putting up 72 and 65 points ion back-to-back games as their offense was steamrolling opponents. Head coach Wayne Hanscom said Monday’s loss had nothing to do with the two-week hiatus for winter break.
”Even though we had two weeks off, these girls play hard and we don’t use excuses,” Hanscom said after the game. “Danvers is a very good team and tough to play against. It was just a competitive game.”
Marblehead responded with 31-29 victory over Revere on Wednesday to improve to 5-1.
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.
2013 GIRLS BASKETBALL SCORING LEADERS Name, School Games Played Points Avg. 1. Hannah Kiernan, Masconomet 6 89 14.8 2. Nicole Femino, Masconomet 6 80 13.3 3. Carolyn Scacchi, Peabody 6 79 13.2 4. Jaclyn Panneton, Salem 5 62 12.4 5. Colleen Corcoran, Bp. Fenwick 8 98 12.3 6. Sam Charette, Hamilton-Wen. 7 84 12.0 7. Mia Bongiorno, Marblehead 6 69 11.5 8. Emily Freedland, Marblehead 6 68 11.3 9. Meghan Collins, Masconomet 6 66 11.0 10. Jenna Gagnon, Ipswich 5 54 10.8 Three-point leaders: Hannah Kiernan, Masconomet 11; Hannah Llewellyn, Danvers 11; Haley Willis, Hamilton-Wenham 10; Emily Freedland, Marblehead 9; Nicole Femino, Masconomet 8. Note: Leaders include players from The Salem News coverage area only and games played as of Jan. 9