In closing out my posts about the local high school teams this season, I saved the Upper Cape girls basketball team for last.
First off there was their season ending loss in the state tournament to West Bridgewater. I was doing play by play for the game as Johnny Most would say "high above court side". It gave me a slightly different look at the game as it unfolded.
Before the game, the audio system to play the national anthem wouldn't work, so the teams themselves broke out into the song and led the crowd.
Despite West Bridgewater coming in undefeated, I thought Upper Cape had the talent to at least make a game of it, even if a win was one of those out on the extreme fringes of possibility. And for the opening few minutes of the game, the Lady Rams did hold a 5-2 lead.
But once West Bridgewater established their post game with their center Brittany (pictured below twice in white), things quickly went downhill for Upper Cape. The Wildcats ended the first quarter on a 15-4 run including a half court buzzer beating three pointer that gave them a 17-9 lead.
Down by 8 points after the first quarter of play is not usually cause for the dread feeling of impending doom, but after the second quarter saw West Bridgewater head into the break up 32-13, the second half seemed pretty academic.
On offense, Upper Cape made too many turnovers and picked the worst possible game to have a horrid shot selection. Things were worse defensively. As things unraveled on the scoreboard, the Lady Rams either didn't or refused to pressure the ball to try and force West Bridgewater into mistakes.
But that wasn't the worst thing happening for them on defense. No, that was West Bridgewater's center Brittany running roughshod over whatever defense they threw at her. Man to man didn't work as she established herself in the post, caught the pass and put it up over whoever was guarding her. Zone defense didn't work because she'd just kick the ball back out to the guards who'd nail their jumpers. There was no double teaming her and when they tried to front her to deny the entry pass, yep that didn't work either. Brittany finished with a quite impressive 33 points, 18 rebounds and 7 blocked shots.
In the second half, the third quarter saw the lead increase and going into the fourth quarter, I was more interested in seeing Upper Cape show the heart I'd seen them play with all season and keep fighting. They did end up winning the quarter 19-18, though it was mostly against the Wildcats deep reserves. But Michaela scored 11 points in the quarter including two three pointers as she established a new career high with 15 points for the game.
It was an ugly 67-44 loss to be sure, but the ending doesn't spoil the entirety of the season. The Upper Cape Lady Rams finished the season with the best record in team history at 21-3. They won a state championship in the vocational tournament. And they seemed to establish, for the most part, that they can be a team to be reckoned with because they have talent across the board to face off with their opponents.
Of course, now their season is over and I find myself at loose ends. All the area teams I follow have been eliminated from postseason play. There's no more games for me to attend. I'm in a basketball nuclear winter until the summer leagues start up or until November when a new season kicks off. The players are scattered. Some have jobs and of course they have to finish up with school. A majority of the girls have the softball season to look forward to. Sadly, the games are too early for me to attend except for a couple of games they have scheduled on Saturdays.
I've been given the impression that both the guy I worked for calling games and the coach of the team would like me back next season to do more play by play work.
What follows is a look at the individual players on the team, what they did and what I hope to see from them next year (and this is just my totally outsider viewpoint). (All photos that follow are by Adam Ellis of the Wareham Courier, unless otherwise noted.)
Jodi - I didn't get to see much of her on the court this year because she missed most of the season with an injury. The three sport athlete is also likely to miss the softball season as well. But over the four years I saw her play, I really loved her aggressive style of play. Despite being undersized, she could play in the post and grab rebounds. She was a really good offensive player as well. As she heads off to college in the fall, I believe her mother told me that she would like to play basketball there. I think enough of her game that I'd actually go see her play if the drive wasn't too far.
Amelia - Another three sport player, Amelia grew up in the youth league that I used to coach in. She's always been one of those overlooked players. Never a star but oddly enough always there and in the mix. In her senior year of basketball, I was quite surprised to see her be the most aggressive post player. She didn't score a bunch, but if there was a rumble under the boards, she invariably was one of those players involved. When she fouled out of the West Bridgewater game ending her basketball career, she dissolved into tears. Even my cold dead heart felt for her at that moment.
Jaylene - She was on the JV team all year, but played saw tournament action as a member of the varsity. She was given the opportunity and unlike others who were offered the chance, she grabbed for it. Though she didn't make much in the way of a statistical contribution, I am always impressed by those who capitalize on an opportunity that comes their way.
NEXT SEASON - I don't know which team she'll be on but showing up when asked has to give her a foot up on her competition.
Paige - For the time she's been on the team, I have never really been able to figure her game out. She seems to defer an awful lot to players that would be deemed "better" than her. She'll get a bucket or two here and there and grab the errant rebound or two. But I've never been able to fully grasp how she affects the team. She's a nice kid from the very brief chat time I've had with her, but I would hope she plays on the summer league team for Upper Cape if they have one and work to increase her contributions.
NEXT SEASON: She'll be on the varsity team but I don't know what her role will be. She's pictured in the middle below.
Alexa - She made the varsity team as a freshman, something that has a certain cache of awesomeness to me. She was usually the first or second player off the bench depending on lineups and was called upon to mix things up in the post. She'd get a basket here and there and pick up some rebounds. I don't really know her game much beyond that. I would hope that she also plays summer ball to increase her contributions to the team come next year.
NEXT SEASON: I think she would slide into the role of the third post player whether as a starter or reserve. As you can see below in the photo, she doesn't lack for enthusiasm and I'd hope she can become a player unafraid to mix it up in the post.
Dasia - The sophomore forward/center had a solid season but saw some decrease in playing time towards the end. She has the ability to score but much like the next player down in this list, has a tendency to fall back away from aggressive play on defense at times. She also cost herself a lot of points off of offensive rebounds when she just THREW the ball back up instead of displaying court awareness and putting up a solid shot.
NEXT SEASON: After what I would hope would be a summer of hoops post play, I would love to see her worry less about how much playing time she gets and just focus on producing positive results when she is on the floor. She's got too much potential to worry about the random stuff. As she produces, the playing time will increase. And she is going to be counted on a lot more next season, so I can't see how she won't be on the court more...and as a full time starter probably and a player for the team to revolve around.
Alexandra - The sophomore center has the makings of a big time post player. Now she just needs to realize it. She established herself in the post and got a lot of offensive rebounds, but she was another one who cost herself points. She spent too much time bringing the ball down to the floor after a rebound, instead of going right back up with it. She can rebound like crazy and her height can be an even more effective weapon if she is taught to utilize it better. I quite like her game but the little tweaks necessary would make her along with Dasia the Upper Cape version of the Twin Towers.
NEXT SEASON: She'll return as the starting center and be one of the team's foundation players the next couple of seasons. But I'm hoping for a lot of skill improvement around the basket (PLAY IN A SUMMER LEAGUE ALEX!).
Molly - It is funny, I can't remember ever talking to Molly at a game, but I happen to really like her game. She split time on JV this year but mostly was on varsity. The frustrating thing for me was I've seen her be a dominant scorer on the JV level. But on varsity, she defers almost entirely to the other players on the team. And I have no idea why. As I told another basketball enthusiast, she has the talent to be a really good player. But in the tourney games, she looked as if she had no confidence in her skills. And I don't understand why that would be.
As I said, I can't remember ever talking to her, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw that she'd followed me on Twitter. After the season ended, I took the opportunity to send her a message about looking forward to seeing her play next season. That she had the talent and if she played with confidence watch what would happen. She responded back with a thank you and how she couldn't wait for next season. I can only hope my message helps her in some small way. If I was still coaching, she'd be a special project of mine. I think she could fill the role of a fourth perimeter scorer, essentially filling the space left by Jodi's graduation. Build up her confidence and develop her skills further and she's got the potential. I'd love to see her play in a summer league.
NEXT SEASON: I hope she becomes a full time varsity player and plays with a newfound sense of confidence. I believe in her ability. If she does too, watch out.
Amber - The freshman wasted no time in making a name for herself. In basketball parlance, she was a beast. There wasn't much of a learning curve for her as she quickly became one of the leading scorers on the team. The Girl Got Game! Players on other teams mentioned how good she was and how good she was going to become. I even got told that she was likely going to get recruited by the catholic schools. Selfishly I hope she stays with Upper Cape but that's just so I can get the chance to watch her play for the next three seasons. I just hope that she stays within the flow of the offense and doesn't forget to take the rest of the team along with her as she rises to new scoring heights.
NEXT SEASON: Much like this season she's going to be a starting guard. With her on the floor, the future is bright for UCT.
(photo by Ron Schloerb of the Cape Cod Times)
Krystle - The older sister of Amber is a full fledged basketball playing baller all on her own. She has a huge upside to her game and can score like mad. I love watching her play. She can defend, make a steal and fly down the court like no other. I do worry about how she gets down on herself if she is having an off game. Her head goes down and she's suddenly not as effective. If she can learn to not be quite so hard on herself, it only helps as she is going to be relied upon to be one of the new team leaders. She also needs to stay in the flow of the offense. The ball is in her hands a lot as the de facto point guard.
NEXT SEASON: She'll be in her senior year next season and looking to make a run at the thousand point mark. I just want to see her play the game and not be quite so hard on herself. She's good. She knows it, everyone knows it. A game where her shot isn't falling as well is not going to change that opinion. She has the potential to lead Upper Cape to another outstanding season.
Michaela - Yes, I've saved my ex-player for last. Sue me. Michaela really came into her own as a scorer in high school this year. She's likely not going to be the team's leading scorer but her ability to now hit double figures in games gives the Lady Rams another scoring option. And the fact that she can hit long range, mid range and drive to the hoop means you never know exactly where she's going to rip the opponent's hearts out. If they have a summer league team for UCT, Michaela is likely to play on it. Her defense is still her calling card because of the all out aggression every possession style in which she plays it. The only thing I want to see from her is to look for BETTER shots. She shouldn't stop shooting the ball, but does need to display a bit better shot selection and not force things quite so much.
NEXT SEASON: The little girl I've known since she was about 3 years old is all grown up and will be a senior in high school. Wow how time flies. And I have no doubt that she will be another team leader for the Lady Rams next year. Whether as a full time starter or the sixth man, she will affect the team in every possible positive way. Here's hoping that helps lead the team back to the promised land.
(photo by Ron Schloerb of the Cape Cod Times)
So a final congratulations goes out to Coach Robin D. and the team. As I said, you all brought the fun of basketball back to me. Thanks for a great season.
As for me, I'll be back next season following the team. They've become my favorite high school team and I can't imagine not being there for games to root them on. After all, if the Twitter hashtag is true, it is a good thing to say #IBelieveinUCT!