---- — Now the games count for real.
Six of our local girls basketball teams — Pingree, Marblehead, Beverly, Bishop Fenwick, North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie and Hamilton-Wenham — made their season debuts earlier this week, while six other clubs are set to open their 2012-13 campaign tonight.
Where do your favorite teams stand at this very moment? And what can we expect from this season’s stars on the hardwood?
For starters, let’s take a look at the clubs that have a game under their belts already:
Pingree is off to a 2-2 start with wins over Bancroft and Dana Hall. The Highlanders are looking to finish with more wins than losses after a combined nine wins the past two years.
In the Northeastern Conference, Marblehead defeated Everett 35-24 in its home opener Tuesday. Junior guard Emily Freedland scored a game-high 18 points along with two assists, seven steals, and four rebounds. The Magicians could very well be the front runners in the NEC South Division.
Beverly had a four-point lead against Methuen Tuesday at the end of the first quarter, but a second half blitz and some great work under the boards by the Rangers determined the outcome of the game. Senior captain Andrea Zelano dropped in 11 points while sophomore Hannah Silvestri added 10 in the loss. The Panthers take on Lynn Classical tonight in their first league game of the season.
Bishop Fenwick fell to a strong Archbishop Williams team, but appeared to play solid team defense. Kate Lipka and Chandler Wilder led the Crusader scorers with nine points apiece. As always the Catholic Central League appears tough, but Fenwick head coach Adam DeBaggis believes his sqauad will be able to hang with the best of them.
”Last year we lost to some of those teams that we should have beaten,” said DeBaggis. “That can’t happen this season. It’s too tough of a league to not get those wins.”
North Shore Tech fell to Greater Lawrence Tuesday despite Julie DeGenova (8 points) and junior Christa Leger (7) leading the offensive attack.
Jon DeMarco took over the Hamilton-Wenham program this season and has his girls off to a 1-0 start after a 52-35 win over Manchester Essex Wednesday. DeMarco is focused less on individual stats and more on the team as a whole.
The method seems to be working as the Generals pulled away with an impressive second half performance Wednesdaay, led by Cassandra Fibbe (11 points) and Leslie Bynum (8). Rebounds also played a big role as H-W pulled down 41 as a team, including 12 by Sam Charette.
H-W graduated just two girls from last year and the team’s core has returned.
“It took us a little while to get our feet under us,” DeMarco said. “We turned up the pressure and started making our layups.”
Peabody, Salem, Danvers, Swampscott, Ipswich and Masconomet begin their seasons tonight. Both the NEC and Cape Ann League look pretty well balanced this year, which always makes for an interesting season.
The Tanners have plenty of height back as 6-foot-2 center Carolyn Scacchi and 5-11 forward Olivia Summit return to the starting lineup. A young team in general, Peabody will lean on experienced juniors in Scacchi, Summit and Alexandra Lomasney to anchor things.
Head coach Jane Heil has five sophomores, one freshman and the rest juniors to round out the roster. The Tanners are a forward-heavy team, and it’ll be interesting to see who’ll run the point tonight against Salem.
Speaking of the Witches, they’re also in the middle of a youth movement. Salem returns three seniors, Shanteliz Nunez, Courtney Shearstone and Kayla Hawland, who saw some playing time last year. But for the most part, they’ll rely heavily on underclassmen.
The preseason and practices have gone well and coach John Fortunato said the girls are picking up and learning the system quickly.
It seems as though most of the teams in the NEC are rife with young players, and Danvers is no different. Eight returning varsity players along with four freshmen make up the 12-person roster.
Senior captain Kasey Sherry led the Falcons in scoring last season and is one of the top three-point shooters in the conference. Danvers hosts Marblehead tonight (7 p.m.) in the newly renovated gymnasium at the high school.
Swampscott recently named Abrom Roberts as its new head coach after Jack Hughes stepped down in June. Roberts coached the junior varsity program last year and is already familiar with the girls on varsity.
Senior captain Ara Talkov, who is headed to Columbia University in the fall, will guide Big Blue as their returning leading scorer. Talkov is one of the most well-rounded players in the area, with her height and shooting capabilities both huge pluses for her squad.
In the CAL, Ipswich is looking to win its sixth Small title in seven seasons. The Tigers might very well be the team to beat in their division, especially with sophomore point guard Masey Zegarowski quarterbacking things again.
Senior captain Julia Davis returns as the leading scorer (12.4 ppg) and rebounder from last season. Davis also had 13 double-double performances and managed 20-plus rebounds on four different occasions. Tonight the Tigers take on league rival Amesbury on the road.
After an impressive Division 1 North tournament run last year, Masconomet opens up its season at home against Pentucket. The Sachems have taken the past six of seven meetings between the two teams and are the reigning Division 3 State champions.
Masconomet graduated four of its starters from last year and seven seniors total. Claudia Marsh returns as the lone starter but is joined by Sara Lang, Abi Rose and Hannah Kiernan as this year’s captains.
The Chieftains are always fundamentally sound, but don’t quite have the height they’re used to.
Former Masconomet standout Chelsea Nason, now at Bates College, was named Maine Rookie of the Week by the Maine Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
The Boxford native recorded her first career double-double for the Bobcats with 12 points and 10 rebounds in Bates’ 59-58 win over UNE last week.
Nason has started in six out of nine games this winter and has logged significant minutes recently. She is averaging 5.7 points per game and 5.7 per game at Bates (4-5).
Be sure to check out next week’s Bounce Passes to see the area’s individual scoring leaders after the first full week of competition.
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.