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Time is Now for Nipmuc Girls Basketball

Rebuilding years are difficult. It is often hard to keep players and fans happy when the team is struggling through learning phases that are often accompanied by losses. Nipmuc girls' basketball has gone through a few rebuilding years, and now seems poised to make a run towards the district tournament, a place it has not been for six years.
"The goal is the tournament," said 5th year head coach Jess Grady. "The last two years we've come up two games short, but this is still our biggest goal and I definitely think we are capable of doing it."
The Warriors are 6-5 on the season, and 4-4 in Dual-Valley play. They are tasked with facing perennial league powers in Sutton and Hopedale as well as Douglas and North Brookfield who also have strong teams. "We have a tough league," said Grady. "Each game can be anybody's game, whoever comes to play that night will win it."
Fortunately for Grady, she fields a team with a great deal of varsity experience. Elana Fazio has proven to be one of her best shooters and ball handlers, and Taylor Ryan has also excelled at handling the ball and helping to run the offense.
But the experience may be most valuable in the paint. Junior Ashley Farineu and senior tri-captain Brie Muise have been able to control the boards and provide valuable insight in practice. "They have been playing together for couple of years and they know the other girls in the league," said Grady. "The day before a game when we go over the other teams their knowledge of the other players really helps them get situated on defense."
Meredith Collins, the only sophomore on the team, also provides some help on the glass. "Rebounding has been good for us," said Grady. The point guard is Amanda Rayos and Ashley Donelan and Lauren Neilan serve as the team's other two captains. Morgan Brodeur and Hannah Kackley round out the veteran squad and provide some added depth.
With a little less than half a season to go, Grady's biggest concern is that her team stays consistent. "We could have a strong first half and then the second half can be a completely different story, whether it's the other teams making shots or our shots aren't falling. What has impressed me most is how much they put into every game. No matter what the score is, they give it everything they have."
Despite being in good position to qualify for postseason play, the road ahead is not easy with Sutton, Hopedale and a nonleague game with Northbridge still among the games on the docket. "We have some tough games in there, but they can definitely go our way," said Grady. "I tell the girls not to go in with any expectations. We just need to play our game."




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