With Division I and II being at the midway point of the regular season, we will take a look at where things stand so far. We will pick predicted Final Four teams, along with players and coaches of the year at the midway, dark horse teams, and mid-season all-state picks.
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Gold Level Coaches: Greg Cotreau of Manchester Memorial, Andrew Marden of Winnacunnet, Kevin Gibbs of Bedford, Scott Blake of Spaulding, Tim LaTorra of Concord, Ernie Clark of Dover, and Steve Largy of Goffstown
If forced to pick the Final Four teams today: Bishop Guertin, Pinkerton, Bedford, and Portsmouth
Analysis: This was the top four coming into the pre-season, and this remains the top four as we sit at the midway point.
BG has been a powerhouse the last few years so it is no surprise that they sit 7-1 (7-0 against NH teams) and find themselves in the mix once again.
The key for the Cardinals will be getting Meghan Stack back and healthy before the playoffs. She can be the difference maker that separates them from the rest of the pack.
With an established backcourt in Brooke Paquette and Olivia Murray, they have two reliable ball-handlers who can initiate offense and create shots for themselves and others.
BG wins games by creating havoc on the defensive end of the floor. If you make too many mistakes, the Cardinals will have your number.
The depth that Pinkerton has and the ability to have 4-5 reliable scoring options on the floor at one time makes them one of the hardest teams in the state to defend.
89 points against Keene on Monday was certainly another loud reminder that this team can score the basketball with the best of them.
Avah Ingalls has been able to be off the ball a bit more this year with Sydney Gerossie being able to run the offense as a freshman, and having an inside-out threat in Liz Lavoie has given her opportunities at more open looks.
Kristina Packowski is the glue that keeps the Astros together, doing all of the dirty work for Lani Buskey's squad, and even she can give you a 20-point performance when needed.
This is a team that has a certain swagger to them at 10-0.
Jen alluded to this on last week's podcast, and she may have a point. Up to this point, it feels like a lot of the attention has been on BG and Pinkerton to start the year.
The Bulldogs are "quietly" 7-1, with Lana McCarthy picking up right where she left off as a freshman last year.
The talk in the preseason was having McCarthy expand her game to the point where defenders have to close out on her when she is on the baseline or at the elbow. It seems she has done just that giving her teammates even more open looks.
Kate Allard has been very good as a freshman, and the hope is she can start to look like a sophomore come playoff time.
Emma Kasyjanski and Saphia Mumpini are two of the best leaders you could ask for on a team. The experience they have and the big games they have played in over the years will certainly come in handy these next few weeks.
This is nearly the same team we saw win it all, the big missing piece is Isabella King. Having a dynamic scorer like that is what the Bulldogs lack. A player like Kate Allard could fill that role, but are we still a season away from that is the question.
Bedford has the experience to go back-to-back, it will be about finding other ways to score, especially from the outside, that may determine if this group can be the last one standing again.
Portsmouth is sneaky. Yes, it is hard to be sneaky while you are 8-1, but they deserve some more recognition as a legit top-four team.
Tim Hopley is one of the best coaches in the state and seems to get everything he can out of his roster 1-15.
It is really unfortunate that Savannah Emery is out for the year because I really think she would've given the Clippers that extra punch to get over the hump.
Even without her, this is the same group that made a surprise run to the Final Four last season.
I think the mix of youth and experience has the Clippers in a good position to make some real noise this year.
Avery Romps has really come on as a go-to scoring option and sophomores Maddie MacCannell and Margaret Montplaisir have had their moments this season.
Bella Slover and Mia Smith are seasoned guards who will be able to handle pressure for this team in the backcourt, especially Slover, who has done a great job running the show this year.
If this group can find their stride at the right time like they did last year, good things can happen.
The dark horse team: Goffstown
Goffstown finds themselves itching for a top-four seed and a late-season game with Portsmouth may decide if they get it or not.
Besides an opening night loss to Manchester Memorial, the Grizzles have been locked in. They will need to play with the same intensity once they return to the floor from shut down.
The scoring is there for Goffstown every night. Ava Winterburn is a dynamic option for Steve Largy's team.
Ava Ruggiero and Maggie Sasso have picked up right where they left off last season and Meredith Winterburn has been a nice boost for this team.
It seems like a different role player steps up for Goffstown every night, something that is very similar to what happened nightly for the Grizzlies team that made a Final Four run in the 2019-20 season.
I think it will come down to how this team can defend and handle the pressure that the four teams above them apply every night.
Mid-season Player of the Year: Avah Ingalls of Pinkerton
Comment: Ingalls has been a force on both ends of the floor and has done a great job leading the Astros thus far.
Runners-up: Brooke Paquette of Bishop Guertin and Ava Winterburn of Goffstown
Mid-season Coach of the Year: Lani Buskey of Pinkerton
Comment: Buskey gets everyone from starters to bench players to be locked in and engaged on every possession. The Astros certainly benefit from having her on the sideline.
Runners-up: Bryann Duggan of Merrimack and Anne Haky of Windham
First Team All-State (mid-season)
Avah Ingalls of Pinkerton
Lana McCarthy of Bedford
Brooke Paquette of Bishop Guertin
Ava Winterburn of Goffstown
Avery Romps of Portsmouth
Second Team All-State (mid-season)
Liz Lavoie of Pinkerton
Olivia Murray of Bishop Guertin
Emma Smith of Exeter
Maizie Barker of Nashua South
Kristina Packowski of Pinkerton
Gold Level Coaches: Dan O'Rourke of Hanover, Larry Meader of Kennett, and Bob Murphy of Hollis-Brookline
If forced to pick the Final Four teams: today: Hanover, Pembroke, Hollis-Brookline, Laconia
Analysis: Hanover has proven to be more dominant than they have seasons past.
They have yet to have a real challenge this yet, and can certainly prove a lot by how they play Bedford this Saturday in a game we are covering.
Where this team has really thrived is having Stella Galanes being more of an assertive playmaker. Her ability to find others has created even better looks for her on the perimeter.
Melissa Whitmore continues to be a calming presence for this team and solid on both ends of the court.
Jane Lackley does the dirty work down-low and has come along as a low-post scoring option.
Sydney McLaughlin can be almost forgotten about with the amount of attention Galanes and Whitmore draw. She can be the x-factor for this team in the big games that lie ahead for Hanover.
Up and down, 1-9, this is the deepest team in the division and could easily be one of the deepest in the entire state.
Pembroke has made a huge leap this year. With how junior and sophomore-heavy the Spartans are, this run they are on is almost a year ahead of schedule.
Nonetheless, the Spartans are here now and have a really impressive resume thus far with wins over Lebanon, Kennett, Bow, Hollis-Brookline, and John Stark.
Ashley Stephens and Annelise Dexter score within the flow of the offense. Nothing ever seems forced from those two and that has benefited this team greatly.
Kaitlin Arenella is a wild card every night. When she isn't hustling and diving all over the floor for loose balls, she is a reliable scoring option when needed and could erupt for big nights when given open looks.
Ciara and Brittney Hill may lack size but they certainly make up for that with the defensive intensity they play with every game.
This team as a whole defends very well as one unit, and they have forced a lot of cold shooting nights from opponents.
They are a group that has shown that they can win a shootout or a defensive grudge match. That will be key down the stretch.
Hollis-Brookline still has a tough remaining schedule, but their ability to score the basketball can get them to the Final Four.
Now that they are back fully healthy I think this next stretch of games will tell us if they can make it there or not.
No one seems to have an answer for Elisabeth Stapelfeld. The senior guard has been held under 20 points just twice. Even with the different looks, they throw her way, she finds a way to get the ball in the basket.
Cheyenne Colbert is a force down low. She defends well and does as good a job on the boards as anyone in the division.
What can push the Cavaliers deep into the postseason is if Colbert can give you double-digit points along with the double-digit rebounds she gets every game.
Laconia, just like Division I Portsmouth, is sneaky good. I don't think the Sachems are getting enough attention for the great start they have had to the year.
Macy Swormstedt is the scorer we thought she would be coming in as a freshman and pairing her next to Mekhia Burton makes Laconia really tough to defend.
Not to mention the play of Sierra Halligan and Ashlynn Deluca has really bolstered this team up a level.
The Sachems have four reliable double-digit scoring threats and are another group that is really unselfish.
A tough stretch lies ahead to finish the year, but Laconia has a real chance of making a deep run.
The dark horse team: Merrimack Valley and Lebanon
These are both teams that could be in the conversation for making the Final Four.
MV has a good group of seniors who are looking to finish their careers on the right note.
Mackenzie MacDonald is really crafty scoring the ball as a forward and Macy Gordon is bombs away from the outside. Getting home-court advantage in the playoffs will be key for this team. If they can do that they should be right in the Final Four conversation.
It took Lebanon the first few games to figure things out but as they start to hit their stride, the Raiders could make a real run.
Catherine Cole has gotten better every year and has really put things together this season.
Molly Smith is an experienced guard who does a good job of keeping things in check for Lebanon while Ella Longacre gives the Raiders an advantage on the inside at 6'1".
This is a team that could go on the road and have the confidence to walk away with an upset.
Mid-season Player of the Year: Elisabeth Stapelfeld of Hollis-Brookline
Comment: The importance Stapelfeld has to HB is unmatched. She has been terrific this year.
Runners-up: Stella Galanes of Hanover and Jasmine Becotte of Pelham
Mid-season Coach of the Year: Steve Langevin of Pembroke
Comment: Langevin has once again done a terrific job with the Spartans. There were high expectations for this group coming in, but they have exceeded them greatly.
Runners-up: Michael Davidson of Milford and Bob McNutt of Merrimack Valley
First Team All-State (mid-season)
Elisabeth Stapelfeld of Hollis-Brookline
Stella Galanes of Hanover
Jasmine Becotte of Pelham
Catherine Cole of Lebanon
Ashley Stephens of Pembroke
Second Team All-State (mid-season)
Eleanor Giradet of John Stark
Annelise Dexter of Pembroke
Melissa Whitmore of Hanover
Kate Canavan of Souhegan
Macy Swormstedt of Laconia
Gold Level Coaches: Matt Baird-Torney of Fall Mountain, Scott Currier of Gilford, and Pat Roye of Hopkinton
2. Fall Mountain
7. Prospect Mountain
9. White Mountains
10. St Thomas Aquinas
Notes from last week: Hopkinton winning four games in five days before dropping a very well played to Stevens was impressive. This may not be the flashiest of teams, but they sure do work you every possession. Sierra Stone is starting to come on as a consistent scorer for this group and Kally Murdough continues to be the glue holding this ship together... Fall Mountain and Monadnock had quite the rock fight on Monday night before a 20 point Fall Mountain fourth quarter pushed them to victory. If Monadnock can get hot offensively to end the year I think they can make some real noise... Newfound sitting at 3-2 is a bit surprising. Prospect Mountain got the best of them on opening night and Hopkinton wore them down last week and held them to a season-low 25 points. The pieces are there for this group to get back to the Final Four for the third straight season, they just need to find their groove. Paulina Huckins and Malina Bohlmann still bring an all-state level of play to this team, but the surrounding cast is a bit different than in years past. I think some good wins down the stretch can help turn their early-season struggles around.
Gold Level Coaches: Derek Tremblay of Mount Royal, and Courtney Cheetham, and Mark Gouveia of Derryfield
1. Concord Christian
Notes from last week: Although they were down a few players, it was good to get a look at Derryfield in person. Elyse Ngenda didn't have her best game shooting the basketball but you can tell she has a real feel for the game. Tia Ferdinando lit it up from the outside and Ava Plage had one of her best shooting games of the year. The Cougars move the basketball and like to get shots up quickly. If they get hot not many can keep up with them in the Division. Another matchup with Concord Christian will be telling... Newmarket really struggled to score the basketball last Thursday and that was the case when we covered them last year as well. Meghan Averill runs really good sets for this group. The Mules played the right way but just couldn't get the ball to fall in for them. We know what this team can do defensively, it is their offense that needs to improve to make another deep run... Littleton put things together with their rematch against Gorham. The Crusaders needed that one, and Lauren McKee make sure they got it with a season-high 27 points... Groveton continues to pile up good wins, this time beating Division III White Mountains 37-27 on the road. The Eagles sit at 6-0 with some tough games left against the North Country. If they can walk out with just a blemish or two, Groveton could be in line for a top-four seed. Trust me, the ride to Groveton is not that fun.