Monday, April 21, 2014

NH Elite Girls Workout Recap

We continue our tour of the top AAU programs in the state with the NH Elite girls program, based out of the seacoast with players from southern NH and Maine. They have experienced quite a bit of success for such a new program. The NH Notebook was in the house to take in one of their recent skills & drills sessions to scout the local talent on display.

Head coach Dustin Freeman puts an emphasis on defense, basketball I.Q., end-of-game situations and really has these girls playing hard. They started off with half court and full court skill work drills, followed by full court fast break drills before getting into controlled scrimmages. Everything was done at a fast pace and with high intensity.

The players ranged from grades 7 through 11, but most were from grades 8, 9 and 10. The story of the night was the play of Portsmouth High's freshmen duo Libby Underwood and Heather Durand. They are clearly 2 of the top freshman players in the state - the future is bright for the Clippers. Winnacunnet's duo sophomore Katie Valcich and freshman Nicole Elbeery, as well as the Peucker sisters from Exeter (Alex and Lydia) also stood out. There is definitely some young talent coming up on the seacoast.

Here's a closer look at the local players who stood out the most from the Classes of 215, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Top performers...

Libby Underwood, 5'6" Guard, Portsmouth HS (Class of 2017) - Underwood was the best player in the gym. She was the quickest player there, the most skilled and she also played as hard as anybody. She can shoot, handle the ball, pass and defend. Underwood is very quick off the dribble, and excels at penetrating into the lane and either hitting a pull-up, a floater, taking it all the way to the rim or dishing it to an open teammate. Not only was Underwood tough off the dribble, but she was also the best shooter in attendance, at one point putting on a shooting clinic during drills with tremendous range. She is a fundamentally sound player who makes good decisions with the ball and also play tough defense and had the tightest handle there.

Heather Durand, 5'8" Guard, Portsmouth HS (Class of 2017) - Underwood was the most skilled player there, but Durand has arguably the highest upside. With her combination of athleticism, leaping ability, size, strength and skill there is a ton of potential here. Not only that but Durand absolutely plays her tail off out there. At one point during scrimmage action she had not 1 but 3 offensive boards on the same possession - and that was near the end of the workout when most of the rest of the girls were getting tired. Durand hit the mid-range jumper and had a high level take, driving across the lane right-to-left before making a great finish in traffic. Most impressive is how hard Durand played on defense, as she had more steals and deflections than anybody.

Katie Valcich, 5'7" Guard, Winnacunnet HS (Class of 2016) - Valcich excelled during full court drills, as she is at her best in an up-tempo, fast break style of play. At one point during full court drills she made a deflection on 'D' which led to a steal, then fired a nice pass to a teammate for a layup. On the next trip down the court she made a great dribble-drive move, slashing to the rim for a nice finish in traffic. Then on the break the combo-guard made a nice extra pass for 2 more. During scrimmage action she made a another strong take and a nice pass from up top to a cutter for a layup.

Lydia Peucker, 5'6" Guard, Exeter HS (Class of 2017) - Nobody in the gym played harder than Peucker. The tough, scrappy 2-guard was always looking to push the ball up the floor, putting pressure on the defense and did a nice job leading the break by keeping her head up and seeing the whole floor. Peucker went strong to the rim time after time, and if the defense collapsed on her drive she was able to hit the open man. Not only that, but she also showed the ability to hit the 3-pointer. Peucker played just as hard (if not harder) on 'D' than on offense.

Alex Peucker, 5'8" Guard, Exeter HS (Class of 2016) - A natural shooter, Peucker looked for her shot and hit hit shots off the catch or off the dribble. She hit a jumper from 18-feet which was the game-winner during one of the scrimmages. Peucker has a good feel for the game, and overall is an athletic 2-guard with a solid skill set.

Nicole Elbeery, 5'7" Guard, Winnacunnet HS (Class of 2017) - Elbeery is a versatile, skilled 2-guard who made some high level drives and finishes in traffic but also showed the ability to step outside and hit the 3 ball. At on point during scrimmage action she she made a good take for 2, soon after that she hit a 3 and on the next trip down the floor she finished strong on the break. She also made some nice passes and has a strong handle.

Maggie Duchene, 5'8" Guard/Forward, Berwick Academy (Class of 2015) - Duchene was arguably the physically strongest player in the gym. She was able to muscle her way inside for inside finishes and rip rebounds away from other players. She is a tough defender who ran the floor well on the break.

Reignie St. Pierre, 5'7" Guard, Portsmouth HS (Class of 2018) - younger sister of the talented Dominique and Torie St. Pierre who were both seniors this year at Berwick Academy, Reignie is also very quick, athletic and really hustled out there. She made possibly the best defensive play all night, sprinting back on 'D' to block what would have been an easy fast break layup. She also showed the ability to finish on the break.

Others who impressed...
Erin Driscoll, 5'6" Guard, Dover HS (Class of 2018) - Driscoll is a guard who played tough on-the-ball defense, hit the mid-range jumper and took it strong to the rim.

Sadie Shore, 5'5" Guard, Portsmouth HS (Class of 2018) - A guard with good feel for the game and skill set. Shore is not gun shy, and hit multiple 3's during scrimmage action.

Molly McQueeney, 5'4" Guard, Goffstown HS (Class of 2016) - McQueeney is a scrappy combo-guard who played hard on defense, pushed the ball on offense and hit multiple 3-pointers during scrimmage action.

Nora Epler, 6'0" Forward, Phillips Exeter Academy (Class of 2017) - Epler is still raw, but has a good size and an emerging skill set.

Charlotte Camp, 5'11" Forward, Exeter HS (Class of 2016) - A post player with a solid handle who also stepped out and hit the 18-footer.

Susie Poore, 5'8" Forward, Windham HS (Class of 2017) - Poore was solid on the boards and had a strong and-1 finish during full court drill action.

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