Saturday, January 21, 2012

Breakout Year for Sophomores

There has been a few different articles now where I have mentioned how deep and talented the girls basketball Class of 2014 is in NH. Well so far this season this sophomore class definitely been as good as advertised. And so far at least there have been a number of players who have really stepped up, shown drastic improvement and have been big contributors to their team's success.

If you ask me, Haley Driscoll (Bedford), Melissa MacLeod (Winnacunnet) and Heather King (Lebanon) are the 3 most improved players in the state. All 3 of them are forwards, and for guards the most improved players in this class are Kayla Stacy (Pinkerton), Gigi Piercy (Bishop Guertin) and Veronica Moceri (Alvirne).

It is clear that all of these girls have worked extremely hard to get better, and this hard work deserves to be recognized. Here's a closer look at each of them.

Haley Driscoll, 5'10" forward, Bedford HS
Driscoll got good minutes last year as a freshman for Bedford, but this year she has taken her game to another level. Driscoll is now one of the top defenders and rebounders in the state, regardless of class. She has also really improved her offensive game, as she is now hitting mid-range jumpers and take her man to the basket off the dribble. Driscoll stopped playing soccer this year to focus on basketball and her hard work has paid off.

"Since last year's tryouts when she displayed quite a bit of athletic ability but very raw basketball skills, Haley has worked hard to become a key player on our team" said Bedford head coach Sue Thomas. "She is extremely motivated, works very hard and has a great attitude. It is a pleasure to coach her and watch her develop every day."

Melissa MacLeod, 5'11" forward, Winnacunnet HS
'Mimi' is another post player who has improved tremendously. She made the varsity team as a freshman for a Winnacunnet team went undefeated en route to their 5th straight D-I title. Still, McLeod's minutes last year were very limited. But then over the off-season she worked hard on her game, training with the New England Warriors and Coach Joe Tardif. Now McLeod (pictured above) is in the starting lineup and playing a vital role for one of the state's top teams. She's attacking the rim, rebounding and had 32 points vs. Timberlane.

"Mimi has continued to progress as a young post player" said Winnacunnet head coach Ed Beattie. "She runs the floor well and will become a major force down the stretch for us. I would guess she has a strong future in Division I and beyond."

Heather King, 5'11" forward, Lebanon HS
Again, another player who saw very limited playing time as a freshman but is now starting and playing a major role for one of the state's best teams as a sophomore. King has a rapidly developing face-up game and can also battle inside. When Lebanon lost all-state player Trina Scheie for the season with a torn ACL they needed King to step in her place and perform in order to win games and she has done just that.

"She has gotten stronger and has improved a great deal" said Lebanon head coach Tim Kehoe. Her and Moriah Morton didn't play soccer this year and instead they MADE 300 shots a day."

Kayla Stacy, 5'5" Guard, Pinkerton Academy
Stacy is the leading scorer on one of the top 5 teams in D-I. She is good at handling the basketball against defensive pressure and uses screens well to get by her man off the dribble. She can finish inside or hit shots from the outside. Stacy didn't get much playing time last year as a freshman at Manchester Memorial, but transferred to Pinkerton over the summer and is now making a big impact for the Astros as their starting point guard.

"Kayla came into a good situation, where she had the opportunity to become the starting point guard" said Pinkerton head coach John Barry. "She doesn’t turn the ball over very often, and makes good decisions. I believe that confidence has a lot to do with her success. She is also very level headed and takes failure and success in stride. I also credit her teammates in their willingness to accept her and the role she fills. I did not see her play last year, so I can’t make any sort of judgment on her change of skills from then till now."

Gigi Piercy, 5'6" Guard, Bishop Guertin HS
Piercy is the only player on this list who played JV last year as a freshman, as the rest played varsity. She went from the JV team last year to starting and playing a key role for a BG girls team that is currently playing better than anybody in the state. Piercy is a gym rat who plays the game hard, hustles and is a tough defender. She thrives in an up-tempo game, and that's the way new BG coach Scott Hazelton plays.

"Gigi is the ultimate utility player" said Coach Hazelton. "She simply does it all for us. Whether it be on offense or defense she's always contributing to help our team. She's one of our most improved players."

Veronica Moceri, 5'7" Guard, Alvirne HS
Moceri is a sharpshooting wing player. She didn't get much playing time last year with players like DJ Purcell and Katie Donovan in front of her. But they both graduated and now the pressure is on Moceri to step in and score on a young Alvirne team. She dropped 25 points on Merrimack and 17 on Nashua North in an overtime win.

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