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Nipmuc Girls Hoops in Playoff Position

The Nipmuc girls basketball team started the week in an enviable position having already locked up a spot in the Central Mass district tournament and just a game behind Sutton for the top spot in the Dual Valley League. Head coach Jess Fowler's team is left feeling good about where it stands. "We are in a good place right now and looking forward to the last four regular season games," Fowler said. "We are hoping to improve and get a better seed in the playoffs."
Despite an 11-5 overall record and a 5-2 mark in the league, Fowler sees some room for improvement, particularly on the offensive end of the floor. "I would like to see us not settle for the first shot," she said. "We need to get the offense moving as the defense gets moving and create open opportunities to get everyone involved and make the defense have to guard everyone."
Nipmuc's defense has been one of the squad's calling cards. The Warriors permit an average of 38 points per night and only Sutton has scored north of 60 against Fowler's defense. "I have been really happy with what we have been doing on defense," Fowler said. "We changed things up against Hopedale a couple of weeks ago and started to switch from man-to-man to zone within possessions and they did it flawlessly."
Since then, Fowler has been able to work in more 2-3 and 3-2 zones to tailor her defense to the night's opponent. She has also received consistent performances from senior Jill Bertrand and sophomore Kylie Gallagher. Both players average around 12 and a half points per game and the 6'1" Gallagher has put up double-digit rebounding totals on a nightly basis.
"Kylie's work ethic is really good and she is not afraid to be aggressive on the boards," Fowler said. "A lot of players have height but don't know how to use it, she does. She knows how to establish position on both ends of the floor and it's great to see that out of a sophomore."
Junior Taylor Leacy is third on the team in scoring at 7.5 points per game. She scored 12 in a win over Hopedale and added 10 last Friday in a loss to Douglas. Fellow junior Hannah Barrows has given the Warriors a lift to the tune of around five points per night and senior Autumn Morrice has been a spark for Nipmuc's strong defense.
"Autumn is not a scorer but she has really great instincts on defense," Fowler said. "We get a lot of tips and steals when we press just because her instincts are so good. She is also that scrappy player who will hit the floor if there is a loose ball."
As the regular season winds down, Nipmuc is assured a spot in the playoffs and is looking to build on its successful year and recent five-game winning streak. "The girls have a lot of confidence in themselves and they are playing really well," Fowler said. "I think the consistent performances and solid defenses have really put us in a good spot."




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