ELLA CHANDLER is one of five seniors for the Kennett girls' basketball team this winter. (Photo by Joshua Spaulding) (click for larger version)
January 06, 2021NORTH CONWAY — With just one graduation loss from last year's team and a significant addition returning from injury, the Kennett girls' basketball team is looking strong as a new and unusual year gets under way in the Peter Ames Gymnasium.
"At least we're playing," said coach Larry Meader. "The girls are doing great, they're getting used to the masks, it's not even a topic any more.
"We've been doing a fair amount of conditioning with them on so they can get used to them," the Eagle mentor continued, noting the team played a full game with the masks in practice and while they were a little tired at the end, they did well.
Meader noted that with the whole COVID-19 situation and masks and the like, the important of depth comes in to play and he believes this year's team will be able to go at least 10 deep on a regular basis out of his squad of 13.
"We have some pretty good underclassmen, that's going to allow us to go deep, which is important with the masks," Meader said.
The Eagles will be welcoming back seniors Ella Chandler, Sierra Parsons, Jaelin Cummings and Mariah Parker, all of whom had roles on last year's team. Additionally, the Eagles will be welcoming back senior Maddie Stewart, who after a stellar sophomore campaign, missed last year with an injury.
"She's back to the old Maddie now," said Meader, noting that she started out slowly, but has gotten her feet back under her.
The team's lone junior is Sam Habert-Jaques, who has missed portions of the preseason with an injury but is working her way back into the lineup.
The sophomore class includes Sydnie Chin, who had a stellar year as a freshman last year and is expected to take an even bigger role this year. Catherine Chick, who stepped up when teammates were injured last year and contributed tough minutes under the hoop, is also back for her sophomore campaign. Hope Elias was called up late at the end of last year and will play a bigger role and classmate Kaylee McLellan is moving up from the JV team.
Freshmen Sydney Shaw, Kaley Goodheart and Sam Sidoti are all on the varsity team for the first time. Shaw represents an all-around threat, Goodheart is a solid three-point shooter and Sidoti brings good height (six feet) to the Eagles.
"We have some nice outside shooters," Meader said. "That's going to help us deal with teams that are isolating on Maddie."
The Eagles have also been keeping teams separate in the new year. Previously, the JV and varsity teams would often practice together, but this year Meader notes that they are working to keep everybody separate to keep as safe as possible.
The Eagles will also be looking at a much different schedule this year, as the regionalized schedule that fall teams dealt with is also in place for the winter season.
Kennett will face off twice each with traditional rivals Plymouth as well as recent rival Berlin. The Eagles are scheduled to face Carroll County rival Kingswood twice as well, but as of deadline, the Governor Wentworth Regional School Board had yet to approve winter sports at Kingswood.
Additionally, the Eagles will face off with Laconia, Belmont, Moultonborough and Gilford for a pair of games against each team.
Kennett will kick off the season on Monday, Jan. 11, at Laconia for a 6 p.m. game. The Eagles will then welcome the Sachems on Thursday, Jan. 14, also at 6 p.m.
Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.