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Knights looking to move forward


Kingswood girls' hoop team brings back solid varsity experience



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ARI LEHNER has impressed coach Grady Charland by stepping up as a leader in the preseason. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
December 06, 2010
WOLFEBORO — Coach Grady Charland hopes that his Kingswood girls' basketball team can improve significantly on last season's two wins.

And with a number of kids back with a lot more experience, he has reasons to be optimistic that things will go in that direction.

"Our aspirations are to get better every day," Charland said. "We know that the Kennetts, Lebanons and Hanovers are getting better every day and we have to keep pace."

The Knight coach, who returned to the bench last year after a few years off, thinks he has a competitive bunch of girls, with a solid two groups of players.

"There's no drop-off between the first and second unit, so we've had a lot of competition in practice," Charland said.

He also added that last year his team was fairly young, so this year, the group will be much more experienced.

"We went young last year so we're experienced this year," the Knight coach said. "We can't use that as an excuse."

Of course, the Knights have a tough schedule, as the new Division II has a lot of very strong teams. The Knights have 12 games against playoff teams from a year ago and a 13th game against a team moving down from Class L.

"Division II is very competitive," Charland said. "I'd like to make the playoffs, but it's going to take some work to do so.

"I think it will take six or seven wins and that's within reach," he added.

In the early season, Charland has been impressed with the leadership demonstrated by senior Ari Lehner, who he expects to play a big role on this year's squad.

"She's developing as a leader, she's really reaching out to the younger players," Charland said. He also noted that she worked with the summer league as well.

Also returning as seniors are twins Erica and Alyssa Nelson, who joined Kingswood last year after playing for Plymouth the previous year.

"They give us great depth at the post position," Charland said. He noted Erica Nelson will be provide great defense off the bench, while Alyssa Nelson projects as one of the best rebounders in the division.

Senior Steph McNally also returns for another season and will provide depth at the perimeter.

After a few years off, senior Arielle Glazier returns to the fold for the Knights.

"She can help us on the offensive end of the court," Charland said, noting that she was just getting up to speed on the team's offensive plans.

The Knights have a strong junior class returning to the fold as well.

Morgan Ekstrom will return to the point guard position after a solid debut campaign last year.

"She's solid at both ends of the floor," the Knight coach said, noting that her jump shot had improved and she will be looking for the shot a bit more this season.

Brittany Roy will be the team's best option in the post area.

"She plays year round, she's very polished," Charland said. "She's really going to be our number one option in the paint."

Megen Pollini is perhaps the team's most versatile player, as she can play down low in the paint and can also move outside on the perimeter.

"She's very valuable to us in that regard," Charland said of Pollini's versatility.

Steph Valpey will provide a good spark off the bench, particularly on the defensive end of the court, where she excels.

The team has one new junior, as Bridget Brogan has moved up to the varsity and has a great shot and will just be looking to improve her confidence through practice.

Sophomore Nicole Matarozzo was a solid addition to the club last year as a freshman and Charland expects her to pick up where Erin Deely left off last year as one of the team's top scorers.

"Hopefully she's going to score a lot of points," Charland said. "She's not shy to shoot and she can take people off the dribble."

Two freshman, Emily Rummery and Kathryn Franklin, have also been working with the varsity squad and should see some time.

Charland noted that last year, chemistry was one of the team's best traits and he is hopeful that the chemistry continues this season.

"We had chemistry last year and we have to continue that," the Knight coach said. "We have to keep everyone positive."

The Knights certainly open up the season with a tough game, as Carroll County rival Kennett comes to town on Tuesday, Dec. 14. The Eagles are the defending state champions. Former Class L squad Manchester West is also on the schedule in the first week and Laconia rounds out the three games prior to the holiday break.

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