Lakers seek improvement with young core

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Inter-Lakes senior co-captain Margaux Dickinson will look to lead the Lakers to an increase in wins this winter. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 05, 2016
MEREDITH With a young, talented core hungry for success, the Inter-Lakes High School girls' basketball has eyes for improvement this winter. After struggling in recent years and finishing just 2-16 a season ago with wins over Farmington and Mascoma Valley, the Lakers want nothing more than to inch their way up the NHIAA Division III standings.

Head coach Mike Gallagher's club lost some key long-time starters to graduation, but with an infusion of youth and some returning veterans, Gallagher thinks his team's speed could pay dividends this winter.

"I'm excited about this year," said Gallagher, who will struggle with numbers as there are just 14 players in the program between JV and varsity. "We don't have numbers but I have a young group who is pretty enthusiastic. They're fast, they want to work... there's a light at the end of the tunnel."

Inter-Lakes was slated to open the 2016-17 campaign with a game against Newport this week.

Who's out: The losses to graduation will certainly be felt this winter, led by the tandem of Julia Eifert and Kaylee Converse. Eifert was a four-year starter at point guard who ran the show for the Lakers at both ends of the floor. Converse was a top interior option and a three-year starter who stepped up as the team's top scorer and rebounder last winter.

Classmate Liz Brennen rounds out the graduating class, and Brennen showed a propensity for hitting outside shots in bunches when called upon.

"We lack the experience right now at the varsity level that we had with those seniors last year," admitted Gallagher. "They played with a lot of confidence because of that experience. We need to instill that in the younger players on our roster this year."

Who's in: Senior Ali Robinson is new to the varsity and will contribute as a guard, while I-L has four freshmen who will make their varsity debuts this winter. Taylor Ambrose (G/F), Reagan Buhrman (G/F), Mollie Durand (G) and Emma Wheeler (G/F) all played varsity sports in the fall, so the intimidation factor shouldn't be an issue on the court this season.

"All four freshmen will contribute," explained Gallagher. "They're young and they want to get out and run so I'm very enthusiastic about their basketball sense and what they can bring to the team."

Who to watch: Five players with varsity experience return to the roster, with senior co-captain Margaux Dickinson (F) leading the way down low. A captain last year as well, Dickinson is a tenacious player in the paint who will give the Lakers a toughness level in addition to some scoring and rebounding.

Junior co-captain Jordan Durand (F) also returns, and the pair should be the anchors of the Inter-Lakes front line.

"With their leadership, our team should work well as a unit," Gallagher explained. "I think they'll distribute the ball well. They want everyone to play as a team, which is what you're looking for. I think the team aspect will be very important for us."

Sophomore guards Julia Gintof and Jessalyn Brown both return after seeing key minutes as freshmen last year. Expect the duo to take the reigns in the back court and run with them.

"I'm expecting big things from them," Gallagher said of the sophomore pair. "They played a lot of minutes as freshman and they'll play a lot this year. I believe they will make that next step, especially having that year underneath them already. They produced last year for us and already, they've shown that they've gotten even better."

Senior forward Stephanie Andrews rounds out the returning contingent, and she'll look to make a dent in the fron court taking advantage of her size.

Projection: Overall, it's a young roster for Gallagher, who is excited about the future of the program while still trying to navigate the here and now. Despite a lack of size, there's speed and athleticism to build upon.

"The freshmen are going to make freshmen mistakes which is fine, but I think we'll certainly be a lot faster and hopefully use that to our advantage," Gallagher offered. "We're going to have to play more as a team because of our lack of size. I think there's a lot there for us to build on and see where we can go as a team."

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