By Dave Dyer firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — HAVERHILL — Things are looking up for the Northern Essex Community College women’s basketball team, which opens its season at home tomorrow against Massasoit.
“This is the most size we’ve had,” said third-year coach Jim Gayton. “We should be able to handle ourselves pretty well around the basket.”
Gayton is hopeful that the improved size will also help the Knights’ prospects look up as well. They were just 3-14 last year and didn’t win a game the year before as a club team.”
“We’re definitely looking to improve and we’d like to get to .500,” said Gayton. “A lot depends on the other teams — you never know how strong they’ll be.”
The leader underneath was supposed to be 5-foot-10 returnee Vanessa Feretto, who was 13th in the country in rebounding last year with 11.3 boards per game. But she’s out with a knee injury and probably won’t be available until the second semester.
Still, there is plenty of height for Northern Essex on its nine-person roster, starting with 6-1 freshman Jessica Goulet who, like Feretto, is a graduate of Whittier Tech.
Goulet will be joined by sophomore Nella Feretto, who is Vanessa’s twin sister, also 5-10 and a transfer from Middlesex Community College, as well as aggressive 5-10 freshman Alicia Allen of Methuen.
“Jessica will get her share of points and Alicia Allen will do her share,” said Gayton. “She plays a lot bigger than her size and really goes after it.”
In the backcourt, Gayton is expecting a lot from Maeve Hurley, a 5-7 former player at Sanborn and a transfer from Rivier College.
Others in the backcourt will include the lone returnee, Aja Metcalf from Salem, N.H., Sanborn grad Kaila Nicholson, Methuen’s Kayla Bernardini and pesky 5-5 Jasmin Serrano, a freshman from Greater Lawrence who should start.
“Our strength is under the basket and outside shooting is my biggest concern,” said Gayton.
“But I feel pretty good about this group. I think they’ll stick with it.”
Gayton will be assisted by Brent Bass.