Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meader Named New Girls Hoops Coach at Kennett

Over the last four years, the Kennett girls basketball team has experienced tremendous success, led by the trio of Allie Wagner, Melissa Frase and Sam Meader. The pinnacle of their success came in 2010 when the trio led the Eagles to the Class I (Division II) state championship, defeating previously undefeated Lebanon in the final.

Those three guards have now graduated - Wagner and Frase were both 1,000 point scorers and will both be playing Division II college basketball. The program enters a new phase, and they will do so with a new coach at the helm. Longtime head coach Peter Ames stepped down following this past season, and he has been replaced by his former assistant coach Larry Meader.

After taking the job, Coach Meader was kind enough to answer some questions for the NH Notebook. Here's what he had to say.

Meader on Being Named Coach
"I am very excited and anxious to get started. Although we lost 3 very key seniors, we have plenty talent coming back, they will just need to learn to score as we also lost our top 3 scorers. We will need some kids to step up and take on a leadership role, and I know they will. Our game will need to change a little as we must now take advantage of our size inside as we will not have the scoring punch from the outside that we have enjoyed in recent years. Division II is a very tough division and I am looking forward to the challenge."

Meader's Resume
"The past 3 years I have been the assistant girl’s varsity coach at Kennett; in addition last year I also coached the freshman girls, prior to that I coached the MWV Lady Eagles for 3 years. They were an AAU team out of the Mount Washington Valley that consisted of players from MWV and Fryeburg Maine. We mainly played in tournaments around New England including Commotion by The Ocean, and also played in the Liberty Bell classic in NY. Prior to that I was a youth girls basketball coach for 4 years. I also coach Middle School softball at Kennett."

Meader On Replacing Coach Ames
"In Coach Ames I have big shoes to fill; he has been a successful coach at Kennett for 30 years and won’t be easily replaced. He basically has taught me how to coach high school girl’s basketball, and how to manage a game. In my opinion coaching high school basketball is a lot different than AAU. In high school you need to game plan for your opponent and know the opponents strengths and weaknesses, and Pete was very good at that. I will continue to use a lot of what Pete taught, while at the same time adding some new elements to the system. We lost 3 very talented players including 2 who will be playing in Division 2 at the college level, so we will need to change up a little in what we have done in the past to take advantage of the talent we have. The other thing Pete taught me was defense wins."

Meader on How the Team Played Over the Summer
"This summer the team has come along nicely. We went to a tournament at the end of June, and it was really the first time they had played with out the 3 seniors. The first game we struggled only because no one was looking to shoot the ball. It seemed like they were still looking for the seniors, but by the end of the weekend they were looking to score and that progression continued through the summer. I was really happy to see the participation level this summer. In years past we have struggled to get numbers for a summer program, but this year the commitment level was there and I look for that to continuing into the season."

Meader on the Trio of Star Seniors Who Just Graduated
"We were blessed to have the talent we have had the past 3 seasons which lead to a state championship in 2010 and a semi-final appearance in 2011. Last years 3 seniors, Allie Wagner, Melissa Frase, and Sam Meader provided not only the talent, but the leadership a team needs to be successful and they all did it in a different way and that is why they will be so hard to replace. Allie ran the team as the point guard and you could count on 25 points a game. It didn’t matter what the defense did, she would get her 25 even if it meant going 25 for 25 from the line. She really worked hard throughout her high school career. She was an exceptional talent as a freshman but she didn’t settle and continued to work on her game. She became one of the best shooters NH girl’s basketball has ever seen. I still shake my head when I watch game tape at some of the shots she made. Many times I would look at Coach Ames and say “boy I am glad she plays on our team” She made many opposing coaches lose a lot of sleep over her 4 years. Allie is a talent that doesn’t come along often, I have known her since she was in 4th grade and she will be missed on the court and off.

While Allie did her damage mainly from the outside, Melissa was dangerous not only from the outside but is so strong that when she drives to the basket she is tough to stop. She is a tough match up for the defense because they have to respect her outside shot while at the same time being aware that at any time she could explode by you. In addition her defense and rebounding ranked among the tops in the state. As a junior she finished 2nd in team rebounding as a guard, and if she had played the entire season as a senior she would have done the same. You will not find a kid who will work harder then Melissa and she demonstrated that coming back from her knee surgery. While many thought she would miss her entire senior year, she worked her tail off and made it back for the final 10 games and tournament scoring her 1000 point along the way. I will certainly miss watching Mellisa drive to the hoop and finish, she did it as well as anyone.

Sam was the type of player every team needs to be successful, as she was asked to do all the little things and never got the recognition, and that is just the way she wanted it. I said above you won’t find a kid who will work harder than Melissa, well we did in Sam. At 5’7” she was an undersized small forward who used proper technique not her size to rebound ranking 3rd in team rebounds as both a junior and senior years. During her senior year Sam logged minutes at every position on the court from point guard to center. Sam really stepped up while Melissa was out helping to carry the load as the team got out to an 8-0 start. Sam could have been a bigger scorer in her career but her unselfish nature led her to pass rather than score herself. She finished both her junior and senior year 3rd on the team in assist and points behind Allie and Melissa, but defense is where Sam made her mark guarding the other team’s best player many times even if that player was much bigger. She could defend the low post as well as anyone, even at her smaller size."

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