The Stoughton High girls' basketball team will look to take another strong step in the right direction and earn another berth in the MIAA state tournament after losing to Newton North in the first round of the Division 1 South Sectionals a season ago.
The team will look to improve on some of their weaknesses, and replace a strong core of seniors who left due to graduation.
If healthy and playing up to their ability, this group of talented girls will be a very competitive team in the Hockomock League's Davenport Division.
Last season's record: 13-7 (13-6 regular season)
Head Coach: Janet Sullivan
Captains: Seniors Emma Zuk, Mackenzie McGrath and Nicole Daniels
First game: The Lady Knights open up their season at home, 12/14/12 at 6:30 p.m. when they get ready to do battle with Hockomock League rival Attleboro.
Other key match-ups for the Knights this season include tilts against Davenport teams Sharon (12/18 & 1/25), defending Davenport champions Oliver Ames (1/18 & 2/15), Foxboro (1/8 & 2/8), as well as Canton (1/11 & 2/12).
Burning Question: Who replaces Chrystal Holland?
Senior captain Emma Zuk gave us an idea of what it will be like without Holland, a versatile four-year starter, who was a threat offensively and defensively.
"No one could ever replace Chrystal," Suk said. "She is a great player and leader. It will be a complete team effort to replace her and everyone needs to
Outlook: The Knights will also need to replace fellow graduates Jackie Kuhn and Katherine Chlus who provided solid minutes for the Knights.
"I am hoping juniors Kayla Motley and Ashley Medeiros will come up and help replace all Jackie and Katherine provided to the team," Zuk said.
Liz Roch and Jess Freitas also graduated and were key contributors.
But, the Knights have a strong group of seniors who will look to carry the load for Stoughton this year.
Zuk added, "Girls who are returning to varsity who should see a lot of playing time include Mackenzie [McGrath], Megan [Crimmins], Nicole
[Daniels], as well as myself."
"We have the potential to have a great inside game with [Nicole] Daniels and Kayla Motley and [Ariene] Ohimor. Strong under the boards. Emily Cramer has [also] given us some good time in our first three scrimmages under the boards," Sullivan said.
"So, I think we have the potential to be strong inside and then it's going to come down to if we can make the outside game work," Sullivan continued.
Zuk, Medeiros, McGrath and Megan Crimmins are all players Sullivan will look to in order to make that happen.
"If we can draw people out it will open up the inside game. We need some balance in the offense," Sullivan said.
Marlena Siegel, when she returns from injury, will also contribute, as will LeiAndra Busby, Jaquel Eley, Sarah Purcell and Taitenna Thomas.
When asked if this team can return to the MIAA state tournament again this year, Zuk didn't hesitate when saying, "Absolutely! The seniors have been together since 5th grade and have worked especially hard over these last four years. Replacing the people we lost last year will be hard but I can definitely see us making a return trip to the tournament."
Sullivan said the team still needs to work on its defensive play, but it is coming along. She said her squad has good chemistry and has good leadership from the three captains.
"Is it reasonable to think we can make tournament this year? Absolutely," Sullivan said. "But right now we have a long way to go."
Sullivan continued, "Chrystal Holland was our go-to player last year. We relied on her for so many things, so we're going to have to see who steps up to fill that role. [Holland], Jackie Kuhn, Katherine Chlus, Liz [Roch] and Jess [Freitas] - these five gave us so much last year it's going to be a while to see who fills the gap, but that's the nice thing about coaching high school. Every year someone new steps up. You get things from people you weren't expecting."
Stoughton Patch editor Jeffrey Pickette contributed reporting.