Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crusader Jamboree Recap

This past Sunday at the University of New Hampshire some of the best girls basketball talent in New England was on display. It was the official kickoff of the girls basketball AAU season, and a number of Division II and III college coaches were on hand to take in the action.

The event was hosted by the New England Crusaders AAU program, and all 4 Crusader high school teams were present. Other participating programs included the NH Rivals, Lone Wolf (VT) and RI Breakers. There were 13 teams total, with each team playing 4 games. games consisted of one 20 minute half.

Games went on all day, and there was plenty of good competition for the college coaches to take a look at. Here is the event recap and player evaluations for the NH players.

Event Recap
For a lot of these teams it was their first game action together after playing with their high school teams for the last few months. Some of the players have never even played in a game together before, and there was no score being kept for the games. So at times the play was a little sloppy. But for the most part the games were played at a high level. The players were playing just as hard defensively as they were on the offensive end which was nice. I also liked the team play. Lots of star players on these elite AAU clubs, but they shared the basketball well and set each other up for good looks. Good shot selection and not a lot of 1-on-1 stuff at all.

The Crusader Blue team and Rivals White team are both loaded with scholarship level talent. They're 2 of the best 16U teams in the region, and both squads have a number of NH players on their rosters. The Crusader Black team finished 3rd last year in nationals and has some of the best freshmen players in the state.

Player Evaluations

Class of 2012
Melissa Frase, 5'7", Kennett HS (NH Rivals White)
Frase was possibly the most impressive player at this event. She was unselfish with the basketball, and was just as happy setting up her teammates for a basket as she was in scoring on herself. Terrific court vision, and Frase also connected on some outside shots. She is playing some great basketball right now, which is a great story after she had ACL surgery just 8 months ago.

Kaley Marston, Tilton School (NH Rivals White)
Tough as nails guard who played very well defensively. She had a nice steal around half court and then finished it on the other end. Marston is an unselfish point guard who got her teammates involved and also attacked the rim hard.

Katie Stopera, 5'8", Hollis-Brookline HS (Crusader Blue)
Stopera showed at this event that she is the kind of player who could fit in with just about any team. While she certainly has the ability to score the basketball, Stopera isn't a player who needs to score or have the ball in her hands to be effective. She is very unselfish, plays tough defense, hustles after loose balls and sees the floor well. Stopera is a winner who does all of the little things well.

Samantha Brenner, 6'3", New Hampton School (NH Rivals White)
You won't find many players that are 6'3" or taller and have the athleticism and soft shooting touch that Brenner has. She was able to step out and knock down the 18 footer as well as showing the touch inside. She competed hard on both ends of the floor.

Savanna Butterfield, Tilton School (NH Rivals White)
Did a nice job on the boards and ran the floor well. She also had a very nice and-1 finish inside off an inbounds pass from the baseline. Butterfield can make plays that other plays simply cannot due to her athleticism.

Megan Hardiman, 5'10", Brewster Academy (Crusader White)
Hardiman was definitely one of the top scoring options on her team, so she was assertive in looking for her shot. She showed the ability to go by her defender off the dribble and was able to finish at the rim as well as hitting the pull-up 15 footer.

Madeline Blais, 6'0", New Hampton School (NH Rivals White)
Definitely not the best we have seen Blais play, but she is a very tough match-up no question about it. No other NH player is 6'0" and can shoot the basketball and go by people off the dribble like Blais can. Her offense wasn't there on this day, but she was still able to contribute in other ways, like setting up her teammates and rebounding.

Kerry White, 5'11", Windham HS (Crusader Blue)
It was a quiet day for White, but she plays on a team that is so deep and talented it was tough for anyone to really get in too much of a rhythm. White still did a nice job on the boards, running the floor, and looked for her shot on offense.

Sara Roy, 5'3", Nashua High South (Crusader Portland)
There's nothing flashy about Roy's game, but she just gets the job done out there. A solid point guard, she looked to set up her teammates, and even when double teamed by bigger players she was still able to find make some nice looks to the open man.

Megan Hartnett, 5'7", Winnacunnet HS (Crusader Portland)
Showed range on jump shot and made some nice passes inside.

Riley Maynard, 5'8", Oyster River HS (Crusader White)
One of the better defenders at the event, Maynard hustled after loose balls, made the extra pass and made life difficult for whoever she was guarding.

Gretchen Anderson, 5'10", St. Thomas Aquinas HS (Crusader Portland)
Anderson only played in 1 of her team's 4 games as a precaution. When she was in there she looked very comfortable on the wing and is a good spot up shooter, especially from the 15-18 foot range.

Class of 2013
Katharine Fogarty, 6'2", Governor's Academy (Crusader Blue)
Fogarty is one of the best returning players in the Crusader program. She is 6'2" with a strong frame and physical down low making her a force in the paint. At the same time Fogarty is also comfortable facing up to the basket where she is an excellent passer from the high post and can also knock down the three-pointer. With her size and high release point on her jumper she can get a shot off over virtually anybody. You can bet Con-Val High wishes she was still playing for them!

Meghan Green, 6'1", Bishop Guertin HS (Crusader Blue)
Another one of the talented bigs on the Crusader Blue team. Again. with that many star players it is tough for them to stand out too much and get consistent minutes. Green did play the game hard when she was out there though. She ran the floor well and was tough on the boards.

Alex Cohen, 5'9", Tilton School (NH Rivals Blue)
Cohen is a prototypical 2 guard who handled the basketball, shot it and passed it very effectively. She also played some tough defense, pressuring the opposition's guards nicely.

Kelsey Brown, 6'0", Oyster River HS (Crusader Blue)
Another member of the stacked Crusader Blue team. Playing on this team will really elevate her game. Brown already has tons of upside as a player who is 6'0" and can also really shoot the basketball. At this event she was a little quiet, but still showed good instincts and the ability to get into the lane and make plays.

Marissa Merrill, 5'5", Inter-lakes HS (Crusader White)
Really impressed on the defensive end of the floor. With her quickness and athleticism she really makes it tough for anyone to get by her off the dribble. Merrill also made a nice drive to the basket and finish in traffic.

Madison Gibbs, 5'10", Bishop Guertin HS (Crusader Portland)
Solid player who did all of the little things well, has a high basketball IQ and played unselfishly. Gibbs made some nice passes and didn't force anything.

Nikki Hayner, 5'10", Bishop Guertin HS (Crusader White)
Hayner is a smart player who played hard and took the open shot when it was there.

Class of 2014
Elisabeth Giegerich, 6'0", Tabor Academy (Crusader Black)
We don't get to see Giegerich play much because she's a prep school kid, but in my opinion she was the most impressive player on the Crusader Black team at this event. She was dominant on the boards, made some laser outlet passes, ran the floor well and finished inside. Giegerich also showed some excellent instincts on the floor.

Aliza Simpson, 5'8", Londonderry HS (Crusader Black)
Point guard is the most difficult position on the floor to play, but Simpson makes it look easy. She is a wizard with the basketball in her hands, as she showed the ability to handle the basketball against defensive pressure and make pinpoint passes that is second to no other freshman in NH.

Clairee Putnam, 5'5", Windham HS (Crusader Black)
Lightning quick combo-guard who finished nicely in transition, even against much bigger players. Putnam can handle the ball and shoot it, and she is always looking to push the ball and keep the pressure on the defense.

Rachel Collins, 5'7", Bedford HS (Crusader Black)
Collins is a smart, savvy player. You can tell that she has played a lot of basketball and that she is a coach's daughter. Collins showed a nice outside shot off the coach or off the dribble, hustled after loose balls and always seems to know where to go with the basketball.

McKenzie Brown, 6'1", Bedford HS (Crusader Black)
Brown continues to show a soft shooting touch from 15 feet and in, and at 6'1" she has plenty of upside. Many bigs take longer to develop, but Brown already has nice fundamentals.

Ali Glennon, 5'10", Bedford HS (Crusader Black)
Glennon showed flashes off brilliance coming off the bench for the Crusader Black team. She made a very nice and-1 finish off of an offensive rebound, then followed that up with another put-back on the offensive glass for 2 more. She had a nose for the ball and has a nice combination of size and quickness.

Morgan Church, 5'7", Kearsarge Regional HS (Crusader Black)
Church is a tough defender, can play either guard position and while her outside shot is still a work in progress she was able to create some looks for herself in the mid-range area and knock them down.

Mary Mullen, 5'9", Merrimack Valley HS (Crusader Black)
Mullen is a strong, physical player who really gets after it in the paint and on the boards. She was quiet offensively, but still found ways to help the team, including being an above average passer for a forward.

Allison Yeaw, 5'11", Keene HS (Crusader Portland)
A lot of the players on the Crusader Portland team have never played together before, so they're still getting used to each other. Yeaw though is the kind of player who could fit in with any team. She is very athletic for a 5'11" player and showed a nice inside-outside game.

Brenna Walczak, 6'1", Oyster River HS (Crusader Black)
The Crusader Black team has been together for a long time, but Walczak is new to the team. She is still getting used to the sets, and playing with her new teammates. She definitely has a lot of potential due to her size and presence in the paint.

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