EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 30, 2013

Girls basketball: Breslin, Pinkerton know February schedule will be challenging

Girls Basketball
Christopher Smith

---- — Sam Breslin and her Pinkerton team has a 13-1 record presently but they know their schedule gets much, much tougher in February. The Astros face Londonderry, Nashua North, Bishop Guertin and Bedford to begin the month.

All four foes are in the top five of the Division 1 standings along with Pinkerton.

Pinkerton also faces Salem in the regular season finale. The Blue Devils are seventh in Division 1 and won 51-48 over the Astros in the Greater Lawrence Girls Christmas Tournament.

“We’re definitely aware that the second half of the schedule is a lot more difficult than the first half has been,” Breslin said. “We’re just focused on each game, trying to improve and focusing on the things we need to work on. For the most part, we’re fairly young. We have a handful of juniors. We have a starting sophomore (Val Martin) and our bench is pretty young. So we have a lot of work to do.”

Breslin, a returning Eagle-Tribune All-Star, is the lone senior and captain for Pinkerton, which began this season with six juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen.

“We work extremely well as a team,” Breslin said. “We’re short but we’re really fast and really aggressive.”

Except for the Salem game, Pinkerton has dominated most all other New Hampshire oppnents. Spaulding and Nashua South are the only two in-state opponents the Astros haven’t beaten by double-figures.

“A lot went wrong in that Salem game,” Breslin said. “We struggled from the floor. Our press wasn’t working out well. We struggled on defense. We got into a little bit of foul trouble early. We just had a hard time working together and finding each other and getting things to go our way. They attacked us right out of the gate a lot more than we were expecting. And it was hard for us to get back and recover from that. So we’re looking forward to playing them again.”

Extra motivation

Breslin just finished the college application process and is waiting to hear back. She has applied to several schools (UPenn, Duke, NYU, URI, UMass Amherst and UVM). Her top choice is NYU.

Breslin is ranked 14th in her senior class of 707 students. She does not plan to play basketball in college so she said this year, being her last, has added that much more excitement.

“My freshman year, we made it to the championship and lost,” she said. “So that’s always been in the back of my mind ... It’s something I want to experience again.”

Strong January

Pelham’s Becca DeBaldo, a 5-8 senior forward, netted 15 points a victory over John Stark last Tuesday.

She has had some big games in January, including a 22-point effort vs. ConVal and a 17-point, 15-rebound game against Goffstown.

“She averages 15 rebounds,” Pelham coach Bob Shepard said. “And she is our best low post defender.” DeBaldo wants to play in college. Rivier College has offered her a spot on its team and she also is looking at Wheelock, Shepard said.

Respect Windham

Windham went 19-6 and lost in the Division 2 semifinals, 42-40 to Kearsarge, in just its second year as a program last season.

The Jaguars have three returning starters from last year: 5-9 senior forward Bernadette Connors, 5-3 senior guard Kelsey Schiebel and 5-5 junior guard Clairee Putnam. And after winning yesterday they’re at 12-4.

Translation: Windham has a legit shot at a state title.

“(Last year) really just fueled my fire knowing that only being a second-year varsity team we made it to the final four and lost by two,” Schiebel said. “My first year, we made it to the quarterfinals. I feel like it’s almost like we’ve got to take it that one step further. We’ve already been to SNHU. We’ve already seen that atmosphere. It makes me want to have the trophy in my hands at the end of the season.”

Small but aggressive

Georgetown Marisa Agganis is only 5-5, but she is aggressive.

Agganis, who entered yesterday averaging 13.5 ppg, posted 15 points and eight rebounds last Friday against Newburyport.

“She boxes out great, she takes the ball to the hoop great and is a fantastic foul shooter,” Georgetown coach Dave Tucker said. “Her intensity is unbelievable.”

King of the court

Londonderry posted a big 65-48 win over previously unbeaten Nashua North on Friday thanks for 18 first-half points from Jaime King and a 3-point barrage from Katherine Dzenis (4), King (3) and Jenna Conroy (3).

“What they tried to do was take (Aliza) Simpson out of the game, and I think that’s one of the reasons you see three other kids with three or more 3s,” Londonderry coach John Fagula said. (Simpson) was kicking it (to them).”

Player of the Week

Angelice Gonzalez had her best game in an Andover uniform on Friday, netting 18 points to lead the Golden Warriors to a 49-37 upset over rival Central Catholic.

Game of the week

Pinkerton (13-1), the No. 1 team in our Eagle-Tribune Fab 5, plays Londonderry (9-2), the No. 4 team, at 6 p.m. Friday at Pinkerton.

The game features two returning Eagle-Tribune All-Stars in Pinkerton’s Sam Breslin and Londonderry’s Aliza Simpson.

FAB FIVE

1. Pinkerton 13-1

2. Pentucket 14-1

3. Andover 11-3

4. Londonderry 9-2

5. Central Catholic 10-3

Honorable mention: Whittier 13-2, North Andover 9-5, Windham 12-4