Monday, January 17, 2011

Updated Statewide Girls Basketball Power Rankings - 1/17

Some BIG games last week on the girls side. Lots of big match-ups, but surprisingly most of them were not as close as expected. Memorial crushed Londonderry. Souhegan cruised past Hollis. Campbell thumped Conant. Londonderry then beat up on Pinkerton. The one close call was Portsmouth squeaking past Hollis.

See how it all affects this week's Power Rankings.

1) Winnacunnet
While the other D-I teams continue to beat up on each other, "The Beattie Bunch" just keeps beating up on everyone else. Winnacunnet is not only 7-0, but they've won every game by at least 14 points. Still, they've only played 2 of the top 8 D-I teams so far, and also still have to play BG again. The questions is, can any of those teams give the Warriors a game? Memorial, Londonderry and have the best shot.

Who would have thought that after graduating the most talented class any team has had in a long team that Winnacunnet could still possibly have the best starting 5 in the state? With Corcoran, Sullivan, O'Neil, Morrison and Gould that just might be the case.

2) Manchester Memorial
Their loss to Timberlane now feels like a VERY distant memory. Since that game the Crusaders have won 5 games in a row (8 if you count holiday tourney games). None of those wins were more impressive than last Tuesday night when they beat the previously #2 ranked Londonderry. 5'8" senior Ashley Gendron and 5'11" junior Amra Elezovic are both playing like all-state players right now. And senior Taylor Leonard continues to play well coming back from off-season surgery to provide the team with valuable depth. Leonard scored 10 points in the big win over Londonderry.

3) Lebanon
So far this season Lebanon has dominated D-II in much the same way Winnacunnet has dominated D-I. The Raiders are not only unbeaten but they've won every game by at least 17 points. However they have yet to play any other team who is ranked on this list. That being said, I saw them play twice before the season and they are a VERY talented squad. They have 4 players with Sara Romano, Trina Scheie, Moriah Morton and Colleen Taylor who would all start for pretty much any other team in NH. Plus other solid role players like Emily Kehoe. It would be very interesting to see how this team would fare if they were in D-I. Don't forget, they went undefeated in the regular season last year before losing in title game to Kennett. But if you say that to anyone from Lebanon they will quickly tell you about how half the team had food poisoning during that game and if they were healthy they would have won.

4) Londonderry
What a difference 3 days can make. Last Tuesday the previously undefeated Lancers got smoked by a hungrier Memorial team. Then on Friday night they gave rival Pinkerton its first loss by defeating the Astros in their own building 52-33. I saw that game and I was very impressed with the discipline and defensive intensity that Londonderry brought for all 32 minutes. Savanna Butterfield played very well, as well as senior point guard Allie Moloney. The Lancers have 9 players who would start for most teams in the state, which is pretty darn good depth if you ask this guy. Question is, are they the team that got blown out by Memorial on Tuesday, or the team that blew out Pinkerton on Friday? Luckily we don't have to wait long to find out - their next 3 games are all against top 8 teams in D-I in Dover, North and Winnacunnet.

5) Nashua North
The Lady Titans continue to be on a roll. They've won 4 games in a row, 8 if you count the holiday tourney. In that stretch North beat BG by 7, Alvirne by 8 and Timberlane by 18. They have been a pleasant surprise so far this season, and little by little people around Division I are realizing that Tori Sousa, Lauren Wingate, Katelyn Roeser, Emily Boots and Paige Parkinson are pretty darn good players.

6) Alvirne
The #6 spot seems right for Alvirne. They definitely belong at least this high with the way they've been playing (3 wins in a row including a 55-35 win over BG). But right before that streak started they did lose to North 44-36. And since North hasn't lost since then, I can't justify ranking the Broncos any higher than the Lady Titans. Purcell, Donovan and Co. are playing good basketball though, and with their next 4 games against struggling teams Timberlane, Keene, Concord and Salem it's a safe bet they will be staying near the top of these rankings for the forseeable future.

7) Souhegan
I was very impressed with Souhegan last Tuesday night when they went to Hollis and handed the Cavaliers a convincing loss. They played without Taylor Cordts, Tori Forrest and Lauren Cordts was in foul trouble for much of the game. But junior point guard Jane White continues to play like a first-team all-state player, and Christan Wojtas and Ceara McNamara are also playing very well. The Sabers are a perfect 7-0 on the season. But they did lose to Alvirne over the holidays in a good one (in a game where both teams were playing to win), which prevents them from being any higher than this.

8) Campbell
Big win for the Cougars last Thursday night over Conant. Campbell beat undefeated and defending D-III champs Conant 51-29. Junior guard Liz Pettis had a huge game with 30 points, and the team as a whole was hitting on all cylinders all evening. Kristen Hrubowchak and Becca Arnone are both winners, plain and simple. And yes, it is true that last year they beat Conant easily at home only to lose to the Brooke Springfield's Orioles in Jaffrey and then again in the title game. But these rankings are about how the teams are playing RIGHT NOW. And right now Campbell is a scary team for anybody, regardless of division.

9) Pinkerton
Pinkerton started the season 6-0, but none of those wins came against any team currently ranked in the top 18 teams in the state. Then on Friday the Astros ran into a buzz-saw, a.k.a. the Londonderry Lancers. Pinkerton trailed 40-18 after 3 quarters, and ended up losing 52-33 in their own gym. The Astros are still a very good defensive team, especially guards Katherine Harris and Michaelle Reid who are both excellent defenders. 6'0" junior Sarah Goodwin is also a solid post defender and rebounder. However this team will need to find a way to put more points on the board in order to hang with the big, girls.

10) Portsmouth
Portsmouth was already having a pretty good season. And now they finally have star point guard Ali Beauregard back in the lineup. Even without her in there this was a Portsmouth team that beat Dover, Hollis and barely lost to Oyster River. With Beauregard back in the lineup for the Clippers and with Melissa still not 100% for Kennett, Portsmouth is the third best team in Division II right now. Beauregard, along with Susie French (another kid who is playing like a possible first-team all-state player) and Markey Flewelling give Coach Chasse a formidable "Big 3." Then you also have Lauren Nevin, another very good player who could make it a "Big 4" if she keeps improving. Other solid role players are Christina Jones, freshman Phoebe Collins and Faith Jenkins. Not a bad squad. This Friday they play at Souhegan - that should be VERY interesting.

11) Kennett
Kennett is still unbeaten in D-II. The #11 spot might seem low considering that last sentence. But until they start beating some better teams and Melissa Frase is back to 100% it's tough to put the Eagles much higher. Allie Wagner is a great player, but they're not the same team without Frase. The only tests they'll have all year are later in the season when they play Portsmouth and Oyster River in back-to-back games. Anyone know if there's a reason why Kennett doesn't play Lebanon during the regular season?

12) Bishop Guertin
BG started out 4-1, with the lone defeat being a 58-55 nail biter to Londonderry. But the Cardinals have lost 2 of their last 3 and 3 of their last 5, including a 20 point loss to Alvirne. Sophomore forward Meghan Green continues to have a spectacular season, but this team has struggled against the press and has been turning the ball over too much. They still have lots of talent, though. If sophomore guards Madison Gibbs and Nikki Hayner can step it up this team could shoot back up the rankings.

13) Dover
Dover is a good team, they've beaten the teams they were supposed to beat. Are they one of the state's elite, though? Well they haven't gotten much of a chance to prove it. They have yet to face any team ranked in the current top 18. One thing's for sure though. When you come to play Dover, you better being your elbow pads and be ready for a physical basketball game. They have some tough, scrappy girls who are fearless, led by Allie Mahan and Jamie Boyatsis.

14) Hollis-Brookline
The Cavs have been playign without starting guard Jillian Gillis all year so far, and last week they really missed her, as thy lost back-to-back games to Souhegan and Portsmouth. Still, they did beat Oyster River by 11 even without her so the 14 spot is a good spot for them for now. Once they get Gillis back, along with her twin Olivia and fellow guards Katie Stopera and Kelsey Berry this will be a scary team.

15) Oyster River
Congrats to Danielle Walczak, who scored her 1,000th point the other night in a 51-38 win for Oyster River over Windham. Walczak has had a terrific senior season so far, but just like with BG the guard play will be key. The talent is there though, with guards Kelsey Brown, Izzy Gorham and Riley Maynard who can all handle the basketball and defend it. This is definitely a team that could make a run come playoff time.

16) Conant
Tough game last Thursday night against Campbell. No rest for the weary though, as the Orioles now have to play a red-hot Bow team on Tuesday night that recently got its best player back from injury. You can bet Conant will come out ready and focused though, as they'll try and get the bad taste from the Campbell game out of their mouths. Getting Brooke Springfield mad is never a good thing. I feel sorry for whoever has to cover her on Bow! One bright spot for the Orioles in that game though was Kim Daniels, who had a team13 points, including 8 in the 3rd quarter. She was making shots left and right before getting leveled by a Campbell player. To her credit though she was right back in the game just minutes later.

17) Bow
Lindsey Nerbonne has been making plays all year for the Falcons. And now Bow has their 6'0" senior forward Maggie Crisman back in the lineup just in time for the big game vs. Conant on Tuesday night. Crisman returned last week vs. Prospect Mountain and had 12 points. She is a very tough match-up as a player with the size of a forward but the ability to handle and shoot the basketball like a guard. Bow also has a number of solid role players who bring toughness and rebound the basketball well. If they can stay healthy they could possibly make it a 3 team race in Division III.

18) Nashua South
South has beaten the teams they were supposed to beat, and lost to the better teams in Division I. They begin a tough 4 game stretch this week, with upcoming games vs. Pinkerton, Dover, North and Winnacunnet. They will have to win at least 2 of those games to be considered a contender.

19) Trinity
Trinity is in a similar position to South - they've beaten the bad teams and lost to the good ones. Except the Pioneers have had a tougher schedule, so they have 5 losses instead of just 3 for the Purple Panthers. I definitely expected more from Trinity before the season though, as I had them ranked as the #4 team in D-I. It appears they're missing Jasmine Theroux in the lineup more than people thought they would. Still, the talent is there, with Marro, Martin and Nawn. They'll have to start making a run soon though. This week vs. rival Memorial would be a good time for them to have a statement game.

20) Merrimack Valley
The Pride have flown under the radar a little bit, especially with their 20 point win over Portsmouth a couple weeks ago. This is a solid team though. Led by 5'10" versatile senior Megan Hardiman and scrappy guard Jordon Filion they;re a good team with good team chemistry. Their problem is depth. If MV can develop their bench a little more they could surprise some people.

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