Wednesday, May 30, 2012

LaTorra Aims to Get Sunapee Back to the Top

The Sunapee High girls basketball team won three consecutive Class S championships from 2005-2007. New head coach Tim LaTorra is hoping to get them get the program back to that level. LaTorra was hired as coach earlier in the spring, replacing Ed Kehoe (brother of Lebanon girls basketball coach Tim Kehoe).

“I am very excited to coach the girls here” Coach LaTorra told the NH Notebook. "Coach Kehoe did a great job this past year of getting the girls to have fun and compete to get a chance to play in the Final Four.”

Previously LaTorra served as the Sunapee High boys coach for five seasons. Last season he was an assistant coach for the New England College men’s basketball, which is also where he played in college and was the team’s captain and MVP.

“Then the girls position opened up here at Sunapee” explained Latorra, who is a health and physical education teacher at Sunapee High. “I felt that coaching at the school I teach at makes more sense for me right now.”

LaTorra will have a good opportunity to continue the winning tradition at Sunapee. He inherits a Lakers squad that went 16-5 last season and made it to the Division IV semi-finals after going on the road and beat Derryfield by 15 in the quarterfinals. They only graduate two players off that team, and they return a strong young nucleus as last season Sunapee had 5 freshman and two 8th graders on the roster.

“There are a lot of girls here who are excited about basketball and play quite a bit in the off-season” said LaTorra. “There is also a lot of good young talent in the program that I am looking forward to working with. The expectation for this coming season is developing and building the mind state to compete with a purpose and let the result speak for itself. I expect the girls to come every day with a willingness to work hard and make each other better. I think the group coming back and the group coming up will embrace these expectations.”

Last season the story in D-IV girls basketball was the Littleton Crusaders, who dominated their opponents en route to a 21-1 season and the state title. Their only loss came to D-III champs White Mountains, a loss which they avenged later in the season. Littleton went 20-0 vs. D-IV opponents and won all of those games by 15 points or more. They were led by the ‘Big Three’ of Julia Winn, Alyssa Keefe and Taylor Glidden.

“I had the chance to watch the Littleton game last year, and those girls were very good” said LaTorra. “I think our focus next year needs to be on us and our ability to show improvement throughout the year.”

The good news for Coach LaTorra (and the rest of Division IV girls) is that Littleton’s ‘Big Three’ all graduate in 2012. Pittsfield made it to the finals last year but they graduate a pair of all-state players in Colleen Corliss and Jennifer Tyrell. Derryfield graduates the division’s reigning back-to-back Player of the Year in Bethany Kalliel. That could open up the door for Sunapee to make a run at it.

“Our top returnees will be Mariah Tenney, Erika Waterman, Madison Fowler, Megan Clarenbach, and Anna Richardson" LaTorra pointed out. “There will also be many other younger pieces that I think will fall into place nicely.”

The Sunapee girls should be very good once again, but the favorites in D-IV next winter might be Groveton. The Eagles have won four of the last five Class S (Division IV) state titles and have won 15 championships since 1988. Coach Haskin’s team only graduates two players from a team that went 13-5 last season.

With Groveton and Sunapee you have two very proud programs with rich traditions of winning in girls basketball. Coach Haskins from Groveton has been there and done that, while Coach LaTorra is looking to make a name for himself. It should make for a fun season in 2012-2013.

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