Monday, May 23, 2011

Hartnett Hired as New Girls Basketball Coach at Coe-Brown

The Winnacunnet girls basketball team had yet another outstanding season this past winter, going 22-0 en route to a 5th straight Division I (Class L) championship. And even though most of the team had very little, if any varsity experience they were still able to get the job done.

That is because they had already been winning games together for years, with the Exeter Hawks AAU team. The Hawks finished 18th in AAU Nationals in 2007, 5th in 2008 and 4th in 2009.

The coach of those teams was David Hartnett. And late last week Hartnett was named as the next girls basketball head coach at Coe-Brown Northwood Academy. He replaces previous head coach Stephen Smith, who stepped down at the end of the season.

"Those were some good teams" Hartnett told the NH Notebook. "It's pretty impressive that there were that many good players within a 10 mile radius of Winnacunnet."

The Exeter Hawks consisted of girls from both Winnacunnet and Exeter High School. The 2009 team that got 4th place in nationals down in Orlando included Samantha Corcoran, Anna Sullivan, Kirsten O'Neil, Aviana Morrison, Megan Hartnett (David's daughter), Alexa Mutch and Michaela Withee. That's right folks, all 7 of those girls were members of the 2010-2011 Winnacunnet girls state championship team.

David Hartnett coached those Hawks teams, and did his best to prepare them for varsity basketball and playing for Winnacunnet head coach Ed Beattie, who has coached the Warriors for all 5 of their titles and every one of their 77 wins during the current streak.

"My coaching style is similar to Ed's" said Hartnett. "I also like to press teams and get out and run, although I play a little more man on defense."

This will be Hartnett's first high school head coaching job. His previous coaching experience at the high school level came at St. Thomas Aquinas, where he served as the girls freshman team coach and assisted varsity head coach Larry Averill.

"Coach Averill was a great coach and I learned a lot from him" said Coach Hartnett. "When he stepped down as coach at St. Thomas I thought about applying to be his replacement. But I wanted to follow Winnacunnet so that I could see my daughter play, along with the other girls I coached with the Hawks."

Well, now Megan will no longer be playing at Winnacunnet. Instead she is transferring to Tabor Academy in the fall.

"The coach at Tabor saw Megan play at a showcase last fall" said Coach Hartnett. "The academic part of it is also appealing as they have much smaller class sizes at Tabor. It's a good opportunity for her."

So Hartnett was looking to get back into coaching. And unlike last spring/summer when there was a record number of basketball head coaching openings around the state, there is not nearly as many this year.

"I really missed coaching over the last year" said Hartnett. "I love basketball and I love coaching. I have three daughters. I played high school basketball and I played college basketball. I hope to build a good program at Coe-Brown. But more than anything, I hope to turn out some quality young women and help build their self confidence so they can go on and be successful after high school."

This hiring continues a recent trend around NH of AAU coaches becoming head coaches at the high school level. Just last year you had Joe Mason at Windham High (came from NE Crusaders AAU program), Jeremy Faulkner at Souhegan (came from NE Shooting Stars AAU program) and Steve Signor at Milford High (Granite State Rockettes AAU program) just to name a few. Then a couple weeks ago Scott Hazelton became the new coach at Bishop Guertin, of course coming from the NH Rivals AAU program. And then you have Hartnett, who coached the Exeter Hawks to national AAU rankings at the 13U, 14U and 15U level.

Hartnett takes over a Coe-Brown girls basketball program that went 8-10 last season before falling in the first round of the playoffs to Merrimack Valley. They only graduate 1 senior off last year's team, though. And next year they will have 7 seniors, including Kelly Turner and Meredith Grady. They will also have an incoming transfer, Yvonne Dean-Bailey, a sophomore who will be transferring to Coe-Brown from Portsmouth Christian Academy. The Bears could be one of the surprise teams in Division II next winter.

"I get to meet the team for the first time on Tuesday" said Hartnett. "I'm really excited about it and looking forward to the challenge."

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