EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 3, 2014

Here comes Salem!

After slow start, Blue Devils still a threat

High School Basketball
Christopher Smith

---- — The outlook for Salem’s 2013-14 season looked so promising at the end of last winter.

The Blue Devils were set to return, Annie Alosa, the 2012-13 Eagle-Tribune Coach of the Year, and their top four returning scoring leaders: Emily Hickey (15.7 ppg, 52 3-pointers), Brenna Blakslee (13.7 ppg, 21 3-pointers), Amanda Bickford (9.4 ppg) and Allie Sirmaian (6.3 ppg, 29 30-pointers).

But then some bad news came: Alosa accepted a full-time assistant coaching position at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh.

That left the seniors with their third coach in four years and having to learn another new system during a year when a final four appearance appeared in grasp.

But no so fast ...

Salem has started 1-2 but its goal remains the same with new coach Michaela Galvin, a 23-year-old former Salem star.

“My goal personally for the team is definitely final four,” Hickey said. “From there we’ll see what happens. But I think people are kind of underestimating us with another new coach. Coach knows that we all want to win and we’re really motivated.”

Galvin has won over the players.

“She’s young,” Hickey said. “She can relate to us to even better than coach Alosa could. And she kind of knows how we’re thinking and how we’re feeling. And I also think a little differently she’s open to our opinion because we have a heavy senior class. She works well with us to make the transition seamlessly because it’s been kind of crazy. I’ve had three high school coaches.”

Hickey said Galvin recognized the players felt frustrated over the program’s recent instability at head coach.

“We run a lot at practice,” Hickey said. “We always try to play to our game-plan. We’re usually just run-and-gun. We want to be really scrappy and I think that was just because coach was a lot like that. She was a guard. She was quick. So I think she’s bringing her game to us.”

Galvin has referred to her new position as her dream job. She wants to be Salem’s coach longterm to provide stability to the program.

Hickey said about losing Alosa: “At first we were actually kind of shocked. We didn’t see it happening. And then at first, it was obviously that little bit of ‘Ah-oh, who’s going to be the new coach?’ But then when we found out it was coach Galvin, I think we were all actually really excited. She’s from the area and we all knew her pretty well.”

HICKEY COMMITS

Hickey has committed to play college basketball at Connecticut College.

“I knew I wanted to go NESCAC,” she said. “I knew I wanted to go to a really good academic school and at the same time continue to play basketball. So the NESCAC was my goal. I couldn’t be happy.”

Hickey’s sister Mikayla Hickey plays soccer at Seton Hall and starred at Central Catholic. Their father is a Central Catholic Hall of Famer.

WHERE’D SHE COME FROM?

Lawrence freshman Mariah Lasalle made her first start Monday, scoring 13 points and dishing out six assists as the Lancers won easily over Greater Lawrence.

“It’s hard when you only see kids for a couple days (during tryouts) in the gym,” Lawrence coach Dan Blouin said. “I saw her play in the Dracut JV game and I said, ‘This girls can definitely help us.’ And so we brought her up and it was a good opportunity during the Christmas tournament to get her to practice with us more.

“And we had a couple injuries and a couple of discipline issues (Monday) and so she got the start,” he added.

Genesis Santana also played well Monday, pouring in 20 points.

“The defense, they got steals and (Santana) was out in front and she was able to finish,” Blouin said.

“We can shoot the ball,” Blouin added. “We have some shooters. We’re quick. I think our main thing that we need to work on is taking care of the basketball every position.”

PLAYER OF WEEK

London-derry senior Aliza Simpson has averaged 20.3 points through her first three games and has the Lancers off to a 3-0 start.

The two-time Eagle-Tribune Super Teamer averaged 16.9 points, 9.5 assists, 6.8 steals and 5.8 rebounds last winter. She will play basketball at UNH next year.