TOWNSEND -- Coming off a year that ended in the first District berth in over half a decade, the North Middlesex girls' basketball team will look to provide an encore in the 2012-13 season. Longtime coach Pat Murphy is looking to a mix of familiar faces and young talent to make it back to the post-season once again. It is a position that has the man known as "Murph" in his usual optimistic state of mind.
"I really like where this group is at right now," said Murphy. "We gained a lot of experience last year and we learned how to win, which was key. I like the group we have coming back and we added a couple of more pieces that give us depth and versatility to match up to all kinds of situations. The goal as always is to get 10 wins and make it back to the tournament. While the move back to Mid-Wach A means the schedule will be tougher, I think we can achieve that goal."
North Middlesex's version of "The Big Three" will be counted upon for leadership and more this season. Seniors Kim Morgan and Maddie Balassie along with junior Mackensey Farina are captains and each brings their own skill set to the table. "Kim will play both point and shooting guard and is a great shooter but also uses her speed to get to the basket often," said Murphy. "She is in her third year on varsity and keeps improving every day. Her perimeter defense along with nearly unlimited range makes her a complete player.
"Maddie is also in her third year on varsity and gives us another player who can knock down a shot from anywhere in the gym. She has added a solid inside game to offensive package and it makes her dangerous. Maddie is a strong rebounder and is really emerging as a leader in part because of her maturity. Mackensey will start at center but can play any of the five positions because of her passing, rebounding and offensive game. She is coming off a great sophomore year and is continuing to improve every time she takes the court. Mackensey was one of the best players in Central Massachusetts last year and she has added more facets to her game, including improving her range. She is poised to have a big year."
A four-way battle is going on for the last two starting spots. Senior Ashley Rosko and junior Elena Beauregard are fighting for the guard spots while senior Sam Lynch and junior Marissa Amichetti are trying to grab the forward position. "Ashley had a really good summer and has improved her game quite a bit," said Murphy. "She has good vision at the point and knowledge of our system. Ashley is a very good shooter, but is more a traditional pass-first point guard.
"Elena also had a strong summer and has fought back from injuries last year. She has good range on her shot and strong instincts to go along with knowing our system. Sam is versatile and could play a couple of spots. She has good vision, a great attitude and is a hard worker. Marissa is an excellent ball handler for a forward and can knock down the jumper. She is 5 feet, 9 inches but has guard-like abilities. Marissa is a team player who works hard and is very coachable."
Giving Murphy options in the front court off the bench for Murphy will be junior Julia Murray, freshman Olivia Cappucci and senior Christiana Roszik. "Julia is a quiet assassin who uses her toughness to aid her in being a lockdown defender," said Murphy. "She is a strong rebounder, but her attitude is what sets her apart. Julia would do anything for the team, and I am expecting big things from her this year.
"Olivia is a physical player who plays like a veteran, not a freshman. She is a strong defender but also has a good shot and is improving offensively. Christiana brings a presence to the post and is a hard worker. She does a nice job of rebounding as well."
In the back court, senior Casey McNamara, junior Marissa LaFosse and freshman Brittani LeBlanc will give Murphy choices. "Casey is a team player who has an outstanding work ethic and attitude," said Murphy. "She also has a nice outside shot and is a solid passer.
"Marissa is coming up from junior varsity and is picking up the varsity game. Her ball-handling skills are solid at the point guard spot. Brittani has great basketball instincts and has shown some flashes of what should be a great future. She is really picking up our system quickly, has great vision and is improving her outside shot."
With a solid nucleus back and some new promising pieces, Murphy believes his team has what it takes to play come District time. "We have great depth and a lot of versatility, which allows us to mix and match lineups for certain situations," said Murphy. "The roster is full of players who can shoot and that allows us to spread the floor and gives us options. I think we have enough offensive firepower to overcome the lack of height. If we come to play every day and continue to improve as much as I believe we can, then I think we are going to have a very successful season."