Whitter’s four top returning scorers from last year’s 16-9 squad are all sophomores and that fact alone should tell you that this team has the potential to win more than one Division 4 North title in the next few tourneys.
“Coach (Kevin Bradley) was talking about winning our (CAC) division title,” sophomore guard Kayla Riley said. “We won it last year, and he thinks we have the potential to win it all four years together.”
Not to put any extra pressure on this team, but with a talented sophomore group that includes Riley, Andrea Terranova, Michaela Martin and Samnell Vonleh, these Wildcats (6-1) should even start to think about a possible appearance in the state title game in the next couple of years.
Martin, the sister of the former three-time Eagle-Tribune basketball All-Star, leads the four sensational sophomores in scoring, averaging 12.1 points per game, an increase from 4.5 ppg last year.
Terranova is the second leading scorer, averaging 10.9 ppg, up from 7.7 ppg as a freshman. Riley has averaged 9.1 ppg, up from 7.2 ppg last year. Vonleh, the sister of Indiana University-bound star Noah Vonleh, is averaging 8.7 ppg, an increase from 6.0 ppg last year.
And the girls play defense well, too.
“My sister was a really good offensive player, but I like defense a lot better,” said Martin, a pesky defender at guard who had five steals against Greater Lawrence recently.
The 6-4 Vonleh, meanwhile, is one of the area’s top shot blockers. She blocked 15 shots in Whittier’s only loss, which was to Brockton, and posted 13 blocks in a win over Wayland.
Bradley calls his three best shot blockers — Vonleh, 6-0 foot senior Josie Sanchez and 5-11 sophomore Dominique Ortiz — the SWAT team.
“They are really aggressive most of the time,” Riley said about the trio.
Riley actually made four blocks herself in a win over Notre Dame last Wednesday, making her wonder if she would be named to the SWAT team, said Bradley who made Riley an honorary member for the day.
“We all want it and we all have confidence as a team,” Terranova said when asked about Division 4 North and even state titles. “As a team, we definitely think we can get to that level.”
Friends Since Kindergarten
Several Whittier players attended St. Joseph School in Haverhill before coming to Whittier.
Riley and Terranova said they have known each other since kindergarten.
“Both of us can definitely score,” Terranova said. “Kayla gets really determined and when she drives to the basket, she’s really focused. She always has that determination. Same with me. We’re similar in that way.”
Player of week
Notre Dame’s Yaniery Martinez posted a season-high 21 points in a victory over North Shore last Wednesday.
Entering this year, the three best local girls basketball players appeared to be Central’s Casey McLaughlin, North Andover’s Morgan Lumb and Londonderry’s Aliza Simpson.
All three have not disappointed yet. It’s difficult to pick which is the best.
McLaughlin has averaged 14.6 ppg through seven games. Lumb has averaged 15.1 ppg through seven games. Simpson has averaged 16.3 ppg through six games.
Hickey dominating wins
Emily Hickey, a 5-7 junior guard, has averaged 18.8 ppg in Salem’s four wins so far.
“We have a bunch of scorers on this team but we usually go to (Hickey) in tough situations,” Salem’s Amanda Bickford said after the Blue Devils stunned Pinkerton in the first round of the Greater Lawrence Christmas Tournament.
Brooks’ Alex Norgaisse, a 6-0, junior forward from Haverhill, sat out all last year after having ACL surgery.
Norgaisse has averaged 8.0 ppg through her first six contests.
Fast start for reggies
Greater Lawrence’s Escarlin Reynoso, a 5-3 junior guard, is off to a strong start, averaging 14.0 ppg so far in four contests.
The Reggies are off to a 3-1 start, and have three talented freshmen scorers in Kiana Perez, Johairy Hernandez and Alyssa Goulet.
Goulet, who had two sibling who starred at Whittier and is the daughter of Reggies Hall of Famer Sandra Michaud, has averaged 5.0 ppg in four games. Hernandez has averaged 7.0 ppg in three games and Perez has averaged 6.0 in two games.
1. Pentucket 7-0
2. Londonderry 5-1
3. North Andover 6-1
4. Central Catholic 6-1
5. Andover 5-1
Honorable mention: Pinkerton 7-1, Whittier 6-1
Three best games of week
Londonderry (5-1) at Bishop Guertin (5-1), Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Skinny: This is a rematch of last year’s Division 1 championship, which was won 46-43. Both teams have several key returners back and both teams could face off in the title game again this year.
Greater Lawrence (3-1) at Notre Dame (5-1), Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Skinny: Two up-and-coming local teams going at it. Watch out for Notre Dame’s Yaniery Martinez and Greater Lawrence’s Escarlin Reynoso.
Billerica (4-1) at Central (6-1), Friday at 7 p.m.
Skinny: Central was ranked second in Eastern Mass. and Billerica was ranked sixth in the Globe’s last girls hoops poll that came out Dec. 17. Since then, both teams have suffered a loss.