Saturday, January 17, 2015

Henrich Leads Exeter to Win, Scores 1,000th Point, Commits to Wesleyan

It's good to be Courtney Henrich right now. Henrich recently committed to attend and play ball at Wesleyan University and then on Saturday afternoon she scored her 1,000th point while leading her Phillips Exeter Academy team to a 67-48 win over Deerfield Academy. Henrich (Candia, NH) hit seven 3-pointers en route to a game-high 28 points in the win. This is a tremendous accomplishment for Henrich, a 4-year starter at Exeter.

"I'm really appreciative of my teammates" Henrich told the NH Notebook. "Especially Casey Osborne, we've been on the team together all four years. Thanks to my mom, my brother, my AAU coach Scott Hazelton and my Rivals teammates. It's been a long road. I remember when I was a freshman I couldn't even dribble, but it's been a lot of hard work and long hours in the gym."

Henrich came into the game 18 points shy of 1,000. She had 28 points in Saturday's win and junior guard Peace Kabari (Manchester, NH) had 12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 1 block. Kabari made a good pass to a cutting Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) for a layup. Then Kabari caught a pass in the lane and finished it in traffic as Exeter jumped out to an early 16-10 lead.

Deerfield responded with an 11-0 run to take a 21-16 lead. That's when Henrich caught fire. She hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Kabari hit a floater and just like that the Big Red were back on top 26-25. Henrich hit a 15-footer to make it 30-25 Exeter and then Kabari converted an and-1 finish in transition off a good dish by Steeves. Henrich pulled up off the dribble and hit another 15-footer and it was 38-25 Exeter at halftime. The Big Red ended the 1st half on a 14-0 run.

"In the beginning we were nervous, because we all knew I was close to 1,000 points" said Henrich, a 5-foot-5 senior 2-guard. "It was a distraction and we were forcing shots for me. Then we called a timeout and regrouped. Also Peace started driving more and that created shots for us."

Henrich was on fire in the 2nd half, scoring 18 of her 28 points. She hit a 3 from the corner off the catch early in the 2nd half. Kabari made a great block, and then Henrich dove on the floor to force a jump ball. Henrich hit another 3 off the catch.

Then it happened - Henrich banks in a 3-pointer from the left wing, giving her 19 for the game and 1,001 for her career. Play is stopped as she is congratulated by head coach Johnny Griffith and mobbed by her teammates.

"Threes are my thing" said Henrich, who set the school record with nine 3-pointers in a game last season as a junior.

That was her fifth 3 ball of the game for Henrich. Then she made a nice pass to Steeves for a layup. Henrich hit another 3 as Exeter was starting to pull away, now leading 51-35. Henrich hit her seventh 3 and then Kabari finished an and-1, scoring over a much bigger player. With under a minute left and the outcome of the game already decided Henrich was still hustling and diving on the floor for loose balls. You love to see that, she plays with a lot of heart. Exeter cruises to the 67-48 win.

Wesleyan is getting a tough, hard nosed player with a high basketball I.Q., has a positive attitude and can shoot the ball well from the outside or in the mid-range area.

"I applied early decision to Wesleyan and got accepted" said Henrich. "Wesleyan is a great school and their coach has been there for 30 years. When I went there on a visit the coaches and team were very helpful. I also got some interest from Patriot League schools to be a walk-on, but I am used to small class sizes here at Exeter. I like the smaller class sizes at Wesleyan, which is something I wouldn't be able to have at a bigger school."

Wesleyan is a Division III program which is coached by Kate Mullen and competes in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). Henrich is the second basketball player in the last 3 years from Phillips Exeter to commit to Wesleyan, with Harry Rafferty (Durham, NH) being the other. Rafferty did a post-grad year at Exeter in 2012-2013 and is now a sophomore on the Wesleyan men's basketball team.

"Lots of Exeter athletes have gone there and love it" said Henrich. "When I went there on my visit they all gave me a hug and made me feel comfortable at the school."

Henrich is also the third girls basketball player from the Class of 2015 to commit to play ball at a NESCAC school, joining Nashua North's Taylor Choate (Bowdoin) and Hanover High's JJ Daniell (Amherst).

"Taylor and JJ were teammates of mine with the Rivals" Henrich concluded. "I'm looking forward to playing against them."

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