In a year where nothing seems to be normal, the Mashpee High School girls’ basketball team is hoping to bring a little back to the court when the season finally begins in mid-January. With a new look to the girls’ team, thanks to several key departures since last year, the Lady Falcons are hoping to run and gun their way to a winning season on the hardwood when things get going early next month.
“The team is a little different now,” coach Chris Tresca said. “The rust of not having played a lot in nine months is there right now, but we’re working on shaking that off. We are definitely going to be a different team than we have the last couple of years.”
Finding size for the front court has always been an issue for the Mashpee ladies. This year it is more than ever after the team lost all-time leading scorer Ashley Keleher to graduation, and fellow forwards Kalajia Moore and Adasia Ogaro also have left the fold.
Tresca is looking on the bright side, even with the bulk of his interior scoring from the 2019-20 season no longer around.
“With every change comes an opportunity, and there be some opportunity there to be had,” Tresca said. “They have been great so far in practice and they want to perform. The vibe of the team has been a positive one.”
With spots to be filled, the first to get chances will be a couple of kids who have been in the program for several years. Captain Maggie Connolly and sophomore Stella Stecei will be in the starting lineup and called upon to have the best years that they’ve had yet on the basketball court. Connolly, who was a captain last year as well, brings leadership and is hoping that with her chance to play a bigger role that her strong mid-range game will put points on the board for the Falcons. Stecei will be needed to play big on the boards, using her length to win loose balls. Her speed up and down the court can make her a weapon in the running game for the Falcons.
With a three-guard offense, Mashpee will rely on the backcourt players to score a lot of points, and it will be the dynamic duo of cousins Amiyah Peters and Hialeah Turner-Foster that will draw the responsibility for leading the way.
The sophomores have been among the South Shore League’s best players over the past couple of years, but this will be the first time that the youngsters are given the keys to the car—even though neither is old enough just yet to drive an automobile.
Peters is a natural scorer who knows how to get to the basket to make things happen. She spent a good portion of her offseason working on her craft, spending time training to improve all aspects of her game. Coach Tresca said that he can tell she put an emphasis on improving her left hand to open up the weak side of the court and give her better driving options.
If the Falcons were playing a full season this year, with a schedule of somewhere between 18 and 22 games, Peters would have had a good chance to challenge for her 1,000th career point as a sophomore. That milestone will have to wait until her junior year unless she really catches fire and averages over 30 points per game. More than likely she’ll get there next year and will be the second MHS player to ever achieve that mark. With two full seasons to follow after this year’s abbreviated campaign, it is probable that she will finish her career as Mashpee’s all-time leading scorer, surpassing her former teammate Ashley Keleher.
“She’s coming in with a great mindset,” Tresca said. “She put in the offseason work and now is ready to take another step forward.”
Turner-Foster has been a rising stock for the Falcons over the past few years and the trajectory of the chart does not seem to be flattening any time soon. The sophomore is a talented athlete who creates chances off the dribble with a quick first step and nice moves. Her ability to get to the spot first not only leads to lay-ups, but many free throw attempts. Turner-Foster is another player who is on a path to a potential 1,000-point career. It will most likely take her a little longer than Peters to get there, but the guard has a chance to be the third member of the 1K club at MHS some day.
With Peter and Turner-Foster drawing a lot of attention from opposing defenses this year, an opportunity for someone else to step up and get buckets will present itself. The fifth member of the starting lineup could benefit from that, and Paris Hendricks-Widdis will get that chance first. Hendricks-Widdis is a returning player to the Falcons who has shown the ability to knock down open looks when she shoots in rhythm in the past. She brings a bit of an edge to the court, playing physically on both ends.
A wild card for Mashpee is sophomore Hailey Garcia, who came in off the bench last year and will probably enter the game first this year off the bench as the team’s sixth player. Garcia is a great athlete who is still refining her basketball skill set. She plays the game fast and hard and can bring a shot of energy to the team in an instant.
Junior Cheyenne Hendricks is another player with a good motor that will come in off the bench. Hendricks plays physical defense and competes hard.
Rounding out the squad will be three reserves who all will give everything they have with the minutes they get. Senior Clara Signs, junior Skyla Rimple and sophomore Gabby Santos all are strong team players who have good compete levels. With just 10 varsity players on the roster the opportunity for all three to crack the rotation and make a difference is there for the taking.
Mashpee’s season is set to begin on January 8 with a road trip to Norwell High School. The Falcons’ first three games are all on the road before the team finally plays at home for the first time on January 19 against Middleboro High at the Bock Gymnasium.