By Chris Villani

Sports Reporter/Columnist

The Nipmuc girls’ basketball team was steeled by the leadership of five seniors this year who helped the team navigate a difficult schedule and produce several highlights.

The Warriors finished with an 8-11 record overall and just missed out on playing in the state tournament. The season came to an end with a loss to Millbury in the Central Mass. Classic.

“Overall, the girls made this a really enjoyable season even though our record wasn’t quite where we wanted it to be,” head coach Missy Rhodes said. “I was happy with how we improved and progressed, our goal is always to get better and I think we did that.”

Seniors Caleigh Christensen, Avery Consigli, Nora Gould, Rylie Loftus and Anna Cedrone led the way on the court for Nipmuc this winter.

“They were a great group,” Rhodes said. “They worked hard for four years and they were the backbone of our team this year. They worked well together and they brought the underclassmen along. They are going to leave some really big shoes to fill.”

Rhodes added, “they battled and they persevered. We played a really tough non-league schedule and they battled hard against every opponent.”

The team put together a number of high points through the winter, including a pair of wins over Sutton and a third-place finish in the Dual Valley Conference. Nipmuc also knocked off Uxbridge in a non-league contest and played before a packed house on senior night for the first time in more than two years.

“Senior night was special after COVID and the lack of fans,” Rhodes said. “We had a full gym, so that was definitely a highlight.”

Nipmuc will have a number of skilled and experienced players coming back next year. Junior Alexa Gibson was one of the team’s top scorers this winter. Rhodes is also slated to return three sophomores and a freshman, all of whom saw significant minutes.

“They have made the commitment to play competitively in the offseason, which will only help us in the future. They really want to step up.”

And they will have the example set by this year’s senior class to live up to.

“This group of seniors made it a priority to be there for their underclassmen teammates and have the team be one united group,” Rhodes said. “They came together early on and enjoyed playing together.”