Both the present and future of NH girls basketball was in display last weekend at the 2012 Crusader Jamboree, which took place at Nashua Community College. It was the kickoff to the girls AAU basketball season, with all 8 of the NE Crusader teams in action. Other participating programs included the Rhode Island Breakers, Lone Wolf and Bay State Jaguars. Many of the top girls basketball talent from not only NH but all across New England was on display, with the Classes of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 all being represented.
Each of the 17 teams played 4 games each, with each game consisting of one half of basketball. It was a good chance for the local players to face some top notch competition and gain exposure. It was not a viewing period for college coaches, so none of them were in the house. But of course that is what this article is for, so the college coaches can read this and see what they missed! So, without any further ado, here's a look at who stood out for granite-staters at this event.
Class of 2013
Katharine Fogarty, 6'2", Governor's Academy - It was just a couple months ago when Fogarty gave a verbal commitment to Marist University, and at this event she once again showed why she is a Division I player. Fogarty has great versatility, as she grabbed a rebound on the defensive end, lead the break and then pushed the ball to the foul line before sinking the pull-up jumper. She also hit shots from the outside and blocked shots inside. Not many players around possess her skill set, let alone players are are 6'2". Marist is getting a good one.
Meghan Green, 6'1", Bishop Guertin - This event took place on the same day we were interviewing her older brother Connor about his commitment to play basketball at Amherst College, so it was a busy day for the Green family. On the court Meghan and Crusader Blue teammate Fogarty formed the 'Twin Towers'. Green played hard, ran the floor well, and showed a good understanding for the game and floor spacing. She hit shots inside and out and also passed well from the high post and out of the double team. And in a very nicely executed give-and-go in transition Green made the outlet pass to teammate Kristin Anderson then sprinted up the floor and then got he return pass back from Anderson for the layup.
Kate Cole, 5'8", Merrimack HS - Cole is a very athletic two-guard who can do a little bit of everything. She attacked the rim off the dribble, hit the pull-up jumper, and although she looked for her shot she also played very unselfishly. Cole (pictured above) played tough defense and overall played the game at a fast pace and a high level.
Kelsey Brown, 6'0", Oyster River HS - Brown is a tall, lanky, athletic small forward with a solid perimeter skill set. She moved well without the basketball and hit shots off the catch and off the dribble. With her size on the perimeter Brown is able to see over the top of a defense to either take the shot, hit cutters make post entry passes.
Bernadette Connors, 5'9", Windham HS - Connors is a combo 2/3 player who took the ball to the rim with authority and went up strong with it inside. That set up her outside game, as she knocked down the outside shot, including a smooth catch-and-release three-pointer from the corner. Connors effectively looked for own offense while also getting her teammates involved.
Madison Gibbs, 5'10", Bishop Guertin HS - Played through a lower back injury but still managed to stretch the defense with outside shooting and ability to see over the top of the zone and find the open man.
Megan Hartnett, 5'7", Tabor Academy - Smart, fundamentally sound wing player who played tough defense and hit shots off the catch and the dribble.
Summer Choate, 5'5", Nashua North - Choate is a very quick combo guard, she played hard and is always pushing tempo and keeping the pressure on a defense. Her style of play creates fast-break opportunities.
Class of 2014
Clairee Putnam, 5'5", Windham HS - She can play both the 1 or the 2, but with Aliza Simpson sitting out with an injured ankle Putnam was relied upon to run the point for most of the day for the Crusader Black team. She was up to the task, controlling the tempo and getting her teammates involved. Putnam continues to show blazing quickness in the open floor and hustled all over the court for loose balls and steals.
Courtney Walsh, 5'7", Central Catholic HS - Walsh lets the game come to her, she is a very unselfish two-guard and seems to make the game look because she has good instincts and never gets rattled. She is a very good team player because she spaces the floor, moves without the ball, always looks to make the extra pass and also plays very good help-side defense. She was one of the top defenders in the gym regardless of grade.
Rachel Collins, 5'8", Bedford HS - Collins is a wing player with a good feel for the game. She consistently hit shots in rhythm off the catch all over the floor, whether it be at the elbow, foul line or beyond the arc. Collins has very good footwork to set up her shot and a quick release. She also likes to get out ahead of the defense and finish on the break. Collins also pressured the ball defensively and overall played fundamentally sound basketball.
Ali Glennon, 5'11", Bedford HS - Glennon is a combo forward who attacked the rim with a variety of dribble drive moves. She also cut to the rim, caught the ball in traffic and made a nice and-1 finish. She rebounded well and continues to show a strong mid-range game.
McKenzie Brown, 6'1", Bedford HS - Brown was already an intriguing prospect due to the fact that she was a 6'1" sophomore with a very soft shooting touch from 15 feet from the basket and in. Well at this event she showed extended range, hitting shots from outside the three-point line.
Elisabeth Giegerich, 6'0", Tabor Academy - Giegerich is a power forward who plays physical and likes to mix it up inside. She showed improved footwork on post-moves, plus the willingness to kick the ball out when doubled. Giegerich played hard and controlled the boards on both ends of the floor.
Bailey Marshall, 5'7", Bedford HS - A natural two-guard, Marshall also has the versatility to play the 1 or the 3. She played all 3 positions effectively for the Crusader White team. Marshall made good decisions with the basketball, and showed a solid pull-up jumper from the foul line.
Melissa MacLeod, 5'11", Winnacunnet HS - MacLeod is a solid face-up forward who grabbed rebounds which immediately started the fast-break. She has the size to play inside plus the quickness and athleticism to play on the perimeter.
Class of 2015
Taylor Choate, 5'7", Nashua North - Choate had a very impressive showing at this event, constantly making things happen and creating easy baskets for herself and teammates with her quickness and athletic finishes. In one of the Crusader Red team's later game she took the game over, with an offensive flurry that was fun to watch. Choate had a pair of nice slashes to the rim and finishes in traffic. Then she pushed the ball quickly up the floor on the 2-on-1 break and when the defender committed to her she made a nice dump-down pass to a teammate for the layup, followed by another effective pass on the break which led to another basket.
Casey Evans-Driscoll, 5'10", Londonderry HS - Another young power forward who isn't afraid to mix things up inside and get physical. Evans-Driscoll battled hard for position inside and on the boards. She displayed not only power but also finesse, putting the ball to the floor around the foul line and hitting the mid-range jumper with a hand in her face.
Peace Kabari, 5'6", Manchester Memorial HS - Kabari is learning a new position on the fly. She wasn't needed to handle the basketball for Memorial this season with Allie Hartford and Amra Elezovic doing about 95% of the ball handling and running of the offense. He role on teams in the past has been playing off the ball, slashing to the rim, finishing on the break and leaping up high for rebounds. But on the Crusader Red team she is needed to play the point. And while she is still adjusting to her new role as the AAU season progresses it will make her a more versatile, well rounded player.
JJ Daniell, 5'8", Hanover HS - Daniell has good toughness, instincts and is an athletic wing player who excels at slashing to the rim and making plays off he bounce. She can hit the mid-range pull-up or take it all the way to the rim. Daniell also played tough, hard nosed defense.
Madalina Jeans, 5'7", Windham HS - Jeans is a quick, athletic two-guard who made plays in transition and hustled back on defense. She also showed a solid mid-range jumper.
Class of 2016
Madison Springfield, 5'10", Conant HS - The latest member of the Springfield family to step onto the NH high school basketball scene put on quite a show at this event (following in the footsteps of her father Dave, big sister Brooke and big brother Devin). She was playing on the Crusader Gold team, which was the ONLY 8th grade squad at the event. All of their games were against teams at least one year older than them, and in many cases they were playing against girls 2 or 3 years older. Yet Springfield made a number of high level plays, effectively playing all 5 positions on the floor. Most impressive was her ability to drive the lane and finish just as well with her left hand as she did with her right. She made a number of nice dribble-drive moves, hitting floaters as well as and-1 finishes. She was a scoring machine at times but at the same time she got all her looks in the flow of the offense.
Sara Messler, 5'10", Oyster River HS - Messler is a physically strong, fundamentally sound power forward. She has a good face-up game, utilizing the shot-fake effectively to create quality looks inside. She can also put her back to the basket and back her defender down and can then score or kick it out to the open man. Messler is also a very capable rebounder and a hard worker.
Nikki Tucci, 5'4", Bedford HS - Tucci is a lightning quick combo-guard who can handle the basketball, defend it and shoot it. She has a good knowledge of the game and knows how to move the ball and space the floor on offense.
Bri Purcell, 4'11", Bedford HS - Yes, she is small. But what she lacks in height she more than makes up for with toughness, heart, basketball I.Q. and skill. Purcell has a great handle, is very quick, fearlessly attacks the basket and has good court vision.
Photo credit: Merrimack Journal