2024 HS girls basketball guide

Bella Hunt

Bella Hunt —

Payton Gray

Payton Gray —Tris Wykes

Ruth Wilmott

Ruth Wilmott —Tris Wykes

Lucy Eschbaugh

Lucy Eschbaugh —Tris Wykes

Hanover High's Sydney McLaughlin, left, plays against John Stark on Jan. 6, 2022. The daughter of Dartmouth College men's basketball coach David McLaughlin is one of the Upper Valley's best players.

Hanover High's Sydney McLaughlin, left, plays against John Stark on Jan. 6, 2022. The daughter of Dartmouth College men's basketball coach David McLaughlin is one of the Upper Valley's best players. valley news photograph —Tris Wykes

Lebanon High guard Norah Burns brings nonstop hustle and court sense to a team trying to re-establish itself as an NHIAA Division II force. She's shown on Jan. 31, 2023, against Bow.

Lebanon High guard Norah Burns brings nonstop hustle and court sense to a team trying to re-establish itself as an NHIAA Division II force. She's shown on Jan. 31, 2023, against Bow.

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 12-15-2023 5:04 PM

HANOVER

Coach: Dan O’Rourke (23)

League: NHIAA Division II

Last year: 15-5

Returners: Seniors — Sydney McLaughlin (G), Elena Mierke (G), Nina Marshall (F), Bella Hunt (G), Erin Kirkpatrick (F); Juniors — Sophia Costa (G), Dylan Simpkins (G); Sophomore: Claire Starosta (G/F).

Newcomers: Juniors: Braelyn Pearl (G), Hazel Tompkins (G); Freshman: Allie McBride (G).

Analysis: The Bears fell in last season’s quarterfinals, an early exit for a program that’s long had a standing reservation in the division’s final four. “We have excellent team chemistry, athleticism, competitiveness, and the ability to score in multiple ways... ingredients necessary to compete at the highest level,” O’Rourke said. “Our goal is to focus on getting better each day and peak come playoff time.”

HARTFORD

Coach: Steve Landon (7)

League: Vermont Division II

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Last year: 8-12

Returners: Seniors — Kamryn Brower (G), Madison Willey (F); Juniors – Izzabelle Sirois (G), Paige Vielleux (G), Paige Trombley (F); Sophmores: (G) Charlotte Jasmin.

Newcomers: Seniors- Kennedi Rhodes (F), Miranda Rogers (F), Becca Keelty (F), Gabby Gardner (G); Sophomore Hailey Vanasse (F).

Analysis: Hartford’s top three scorers return, including Jasmin at 17.4 points per game. Landon guided the Hurricanes to their only state title in 2012 and was 75-56 during six seasons with the program before he moved over to the boys team. He went 48-99 in seven seasons before decamping for Woodstock, where he guided its boys and girls squads for two years each. “The leadership skills of the upperclassmen will be a factor moving through the season with a difficult schedule,” Landon said. “We will continue to grow and see where that brings us come tournament time.”

LEBANON

Coach: Jeff Sowa (1)

League: NHIAA Division II

Last year: 3-15

Returners: Seniors — Izzy Hamilton (G), Sarah Belk (G), Maddie Jewell (F). Juniors — Lucy Eshbaugh (G), Norah Burns (G), Drew Kantor (F), Nina Ellingson (F), Sage Murray (G), Alysa Wyman (F), Ainslee DeLisle (G).

Newcomers: Sophomore — Lily Estes (G); Freshmen — Summer Crowell (G), Veronica Getchell (G), Catie Bachelder (F), M.J. Cass (G).

Analysis: “The theme of the year is growth, on and off the court,” said Sowa, a 32-year old whose team returns fairly significant varsity experience. “With a new coach and a completely new system and style, the girls have shown a willingness to learn and improve.” Lebanon is 25-28 and on its third coach in four years since being declared a 2020 division co-champion when the Covid-19 pandemic ended the season. The Raiders have reached the division semifinals 20 times, the finals 11 times and won five titles under 29-year coach Tim Kehoe, who stepped down in 2020 and is Sowa’s father-in-law.

MASCOMA

Coach: Tonya Young (3)

Last year: 4-12

League: NHIAA Division III

Returners: Seniors – Hailey Miller (F), Alexis Patterson (G), Kylie Rogers (G), Emily Seiler, (G), Leah Larocque (C), Gabby Pierce (F), Izzy Adams (G); Junior: Anna Sullivan (F); Sophomores: Makenna Houston (G/F), Grace Clifford (G), Ellie McGrody (G).

Newcomers: Senior – Bryanna Thurston (G); Sophomores: Georgia Kondi (C), Aubrey Meyveagaci (F); Freshman: Molly Gray (G).

Analysis: The Royals, who graduated one senior, hope to move on after a disappointing 2022-23 season. Mascoma returns plenty of experience on a team stacked with multi-sport athletes.

“The season looks to be bright for this senior-laden team,” Young said. “They are willing to put in the work and are hopefully ready to make some noise in Division III.”

NEWPORT

Coach: Ross Dole (8)

League: NHIAA Division III

Last year: 8-8

Returners: Seniors — Tanya Sanchez (G), Emmah O’Connor (F); Juniors — Taylor Fellows (G), Cassie Sanborn (G), Erica Sayer (G), Lela Trott (G), Skylar Nelson (F), Torrence Williams (F), Callie Dixon (F), Natasha Carpenter (C); Sophomores- Brooklyn Ranney (G), Makayla Cossingham (G).

Newcomers: Senior — Katie Sharron (C); Freshmen — Hailey Hill (G), Paige Hall (F).

Analysis: The Tigers lost in the first round of last season’s playoffs after finishing the regular season strong despite the absence of any seniors. “Our goal is to be one of the top defensive teams in the division,” Dole said.

OXBOW

Coach: Barry Emerson (10)

League: Vermont Division III

Last year: 12-10

Returners: Senior — Lillian DeGoosh (F); Juniors - Maggi Ellsworth (G), Anastase Bourgeois (G), Libby Swift (F), Caleigh Bean (F); Sophomores — Kane Fuller-Penatzer (F), Natalee Spear (G), Braylee Phelps (G).

Newcomers: Junior — Mallory Young (G); Sophomores — Maisie Bourgeois (G), Noemi Rosa (F), Abby Peavy (G); Freshman — Brooke Osgood (F).

Analysis: Oxbow returns starters Phelps, Swift and Spear. Emerson stepped down after the 2021-22 season, his ninth leading the program. He led the Olympians to the 2019 state title game and the next season, they were declared co-champions with three other teams when the semifinals and finals were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emerson has also coached girls JV soccer, boys JV basketball, boys varsity basketball (for eight seasons) and boys varsity soccer at Oxbow.

RIVENDELL

Coach: Ross Jensen (1)

League: Vermont Division IV

Last year: 1-20

Returners: Seniors — Mason Fahey (G), Colleen Underhill (G/F); Juniors — Erin Ricker (G/F), Shaylee Carter (G/F), Eiea Morgan (G); Sophomores — Lindsey Ohearn (F), Makayla-Lee Eastman (G).

Newcomers: Freshmen — Lily Murray (G), Lyza Taylor (G), Mia Johnson (G), Payton Gray (F).

Analysis: “We have forgotten about last season,” said Jensen, who leads a program that’s 24-64 during the past five seasons. “It’s a new era at Rivendell with a new coaching staff, mind set and expectations,” Jensen said. “A standard of excellence is required. All I can say to Vermont girls basketball is ‘We’re coming’. This program will be competing for championships.” Rivendell, which has never won a state title, reached the finals in 2003 and 2006.

SHARON

Coach: Jen Tewksbury (3)

League: Vermont Division IV

Returners: Seniors — Katarennah Hilliker (G), Martina Young (G), Cecelia Goodwin (F); Junior — Ryan Lansing (F); Sophomores — Ava Lacaillade (G), Natalie Young (G).

Newcomers: Seniors — Diana Chapin-Parker (F); Juniors — MaCallister Gray (G), Avry Loftus (G); Sophomores - Evelyn Murawski (G). Freshman — Paetyn Gray (F).

Analysis: The Phoenix return to varsity play after several years on the JV level. “Interest in the program increased over the last two years,” Tewksbury said. The Phoenix most recently competed in the playoffs in 2017 and are 3-11 in the postseason overall. Their last winning season came during the 2007-2008 campaign.

STEVENS

Coach: Steve Condon (3)

League: NHIAA Division III

Last year: 14-2

Returners: Senior — Kiley Bundy (G), Junior — Bella Bovell (G); Sophomores — Audrina Pelton (F/C), Lily Eagan (G).

Newcomers: Sophomores — Gianna Bovell (G/F), Ella Muenzer (F/C), Jilli Oulette (F/C); Freshman — Maddy Chambers (G).

Analysis: Stevens graduated four seniors off last season’s team that reached the division semifinals. Bundy was a first team All-State selection and Bella Bovell was an All-Defensive team pick whom Condon wants to see improve her playmaking and scoring. “Court time together and building chemistry will be the main focus for this group,” he said.

THETFORD

Coach: Jolene Cadwell (2)

League: Vermont Division III

Last year: 17-6

Returners: Seniors — Addie Cadwell (G), Charlize Brown (F), Kelsey Bogie (G), Whitney Lewis (F).

Newcomers: Juniors — Rebecca Osgood (G), Ashlyn Osgood (F), Ruth Wilmott (F), Nora Keane (F); Sophomore — Natalie Perry (G).

Analysis: Thetford’s four seniors are each returning starters. The Panthers reached last season’s division finals but lost to Windsor after allowing the Wasps to go on a 9-1 run during the fourth quarter. Cadwell, who had missed the previous season recovering from knee surgery, had 21 points for TA that night. She’s also a standout lacrosse player for Hartford during the spring.

WHITE RIVER VALLEY

Coach: Gordon Barnaby (1)

League: Vermont Division III

Last year: 15-5

Returners: Senior — Tanner Drury (G); Juniors- Ashlyn Rhoades (G), Hannah Collins (F), Lillianna Babcock (G); Sophomores — Mackenzie Vesper (G), Cassandra Armstrong (G/ F), Olivia Tuller (F).

Newcomers: Sophomores — Rhianna Young (F/G), Sarah Rule (G).

Analysis: Barnaby, 69, owns a Tunbridge fencing company with experience as town moderator, justice of the peace and the community fair’s president. He previously went 171-151 during a combined 15 seasons with the girls basketball teams at Chelsea and Sharon Academy. Barnaby inherits his new program from five-year predecessor and WRV athletic director Tim Perrault. The Wildcats exited last season’s playoffs in the quarterfinals but won a combined 33 games during the previous two campaigns. Drury is one of the Upper Valley’s best players and, along with Rhoades and Tuller, one of the Wildcats’ returning starters.

WINDSOR

Coach: Kabray Rockwood (4)

League: Vermont Division III

Last year: 21-2

Returners:Seniors: Sydney Perry (C), Amber Simonds (F); Juniors: Sophia Rockwood (G), Audrey Rupp (G), Brianna Barton (F); Sophomores: Kemari Wildgoose (F), Cassie Clark (G), Mackenzie Daniels (F), Bailey Athorne (G), Bailey Howard (F).

Newcomers: Freshmen: Jaylin Lyman (G), Grace Blanchard (F), Abigail Brown (G), Abigail Waterman (F).

Analysis: Windsor is the back-to-back defending division champion and returns four starters and seven key contributors. The Yellowjackets’ field hockey and soccer teams each reached title games during the fall and many of those players now turn to basketball.

WOODSTOCK

Coach: Timmy MacDonnell (2)

League: Vermont Division III

Last year: 3-17

Returners: Seniors — Georgia Tarleton (G/F), Charley Crowley (F), Grace Modarai (F); Juniors — Kamryn Jillson (G), Alice Cayer (F); Sophomore — Cameron Allard (G).

Newcomers: Senior — Phoebe Goldberg (G/F); Sophomore — Marley Olmstead (F); Freshman — Khloi Bruso (G).

Analysis: Woodstock struggled to find consistency last winter while adjusting to frequent coaching changes during recent years. The Wasps graduated three starters but have increased their program’s numbers from 13 to 18 and have 13 others at the junior high level, MacDonnell said.