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Nipmuc Girls Start Strong

Midway through the year, the Nipmuc girls basketball team finds itself at the top of the Dual Valley League standings and just a few wins away from locking up a spot in the district tournament. The Warriors went 7-3 through their first 10 games, including a perfect 3-0 mark in league play.
"So far I am very pleased with the way the season as gone," head coach Jess Fowler said. "We had a couple of tough non-league games but overall we have played well."
Senior captain Jill Bertrand leads the team in scoring at around 13 points per game. She has scored in double figures six times already this year and has six games with more than one three pointer made. "Jill started a little slow, but she has turned it on and taken the role of leading the offense over the last several games," said Fowler.
Nipmuc has also leaned on center Kylie Gallagher. The 6'1" sophomore averages 12 points per game and has been difficult for opposing teams to defend on the interior. Her tendency to draw double teams has opened up scoring opportunities for junior Taylor Leacy, who responded with 15 points in a win over Blackstone-Millville and an 18 point performance against Northbridge. Senior Lauren Campbell and junior Elizabeth Hilton anchor the backcourt. "Both guards are very quick and we rotate them on defense whenever we use a box-and-one," Fowler said. "They are very smart defensively and they also rebound very well on the defensive end."
Fowler also praised the tenacity of senior forward Autumn Morrice. "Autumn is not a scorer, but she is scrappy," Fowler said. "She will hit the floor like a guard and she has done a good job helping Kylie on the boards."
That tenacity has been a hallmark for the Warriors so far. In Sunday's win over Northbridge, Nipmuc was held scoreless in the second quarter but still pulled out a 40-39 win. "I knew playing a team like Northbridge would mean a tough game, but the goal is to get back to the playoffs and get past the first round, something we were not able to do last year," Fowler said. "Playing tough competition helps us with that goal, we really think we are strong enough to go further this year."
Despite being 7-3, Fowler is your typical coach - always looking to improve. She has a laundry list of where her team can get better. "We need to improve our help defense and the way we box out," she said. "On offense, our overall ball movement needs improvement. We need to find the open player and get quality shots."
The head coach is confident in her team's ability to reach those goals. "We have terrific leadership and the girls have a great bond," Fowler said. "They work well together, they persevere through a lot and they don't give up."




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