When Annie Alosa was named Salem girls basketball coach before the 2011-12 season, the Blue Devils had won just 14 games combined over the previous two seasons.
Alosa was just 24 at the time. And during her first winter the team went 8-14 and this reporter overheard a skeptical fan saying how she maybe was too young for the position.
But it should be clear to everyone now that Alosa was the right fit for a struggling Salem program which has only won one state tourney game in the last seven years.
The young coach has her young team — three juniors, a sophomore and freshman start — playing hard and winning. The Blue Devils are 11-7 overall and 10-5 in Division 1. After a slow start, they’ve won seven of their last eight.
They have wins over first-place Pinkerton and a Londonderry squad that has four returning starters from last year’s Division 1 runner-up squad.
Alosa tried not to listen to what people outside the program and school were saying. She remained focused on the input of her coaching staff and the improvement of her players. Alosa’s varsity assistant coach is her father, Sal Alosa, who coached basketball at Gilford High years ago and also has been an AAU coach.
“Having my dad on the bench has honestly been the best experience for me,” Alosa said. “Who better than to have your back than the person who taught you the game and taught you the passion for the game? He has been phenomenal.
“I try not to listen to the rumble because I know what I’m capable of. But really it’s not me that does it — it’s the girls.”
Alosa certainly has her girls playing well. Salem hit its stride in January. It went 4-2 and junior guards Brenna Blakslee (17.3 ppg that month) and Emily Hickey (19.0 ppg in January) led the way.