Young Gilford girls build for future
|Gilford High School girls’ basketball coach Rick Forge and his team talk strategy during a timeout at a game against White Mountains earlier this season. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)|
March 14, 2011GILFORD — Although the expectations may not have been high for the Gilford High School girls' basketball team this winter, that certainly won't be the case next year.
The young Golden Eagles showed flashes throughout the course of the season en route to a 6-13 overall record, but the good news for Gilford coach Rick Forge is that he returns almost his entire team next winter, with the exception of lone senior Melissa Ryan.
"It was a season of gaining experience," said Forge. "It was a transition season for us but the kids were competitive, especially the last five games of the year."
Forge essentially had a core of sophomores, with junior Olivia Broderick also figuring heavily into the mix. Broderick received the NHIAA Sportsmanship Award for her efforts this season.
"Sometimes you forget about Olivia," said Forge. "She was a big part of the glue that held us together and I'm expecting her to play an even bigger role as a senior next year."
Gilford earned the 17th seed in Division III and knocked off number 16 Hillsboro-Deering on the road in the play-in game. That set up a tough preliminary round loss to eventual state champion Campbell to end the season, 57-28.
"You've got to give props to Campbell in the tournament," said Forge. "We weren't the only team they beat by over 20 points. They were a very formidable team and they had a lot of seniors."
While Gilford was competitive in parts of every game, Forge's biggest problem was having his team sustain their level of play for an entire game. He hopes that won't be as much of an issue next season.
"It was tough to put four complete quarters of basketball together," he said. "We did it against Hillsboro-Deering and a couple of games during the season against White Mountains and Prospect Mountain where we played well. The kids are realistic, and they knew coming in that it was going to be an uphill battle."
One thing Forge said he never had to worry about was team chemistry and off the court issues, as he had no problems keeping them on task.
"What was kind of interesting with this team is that there was absolutely no drama," he said. "I've coached some great teams and you walk away and scratch your head wondering what the heck is happening. That definitely wasn't the case here and they were great to work with."
Despite dropping eight straight games in January and early February, the Golden Eagles didn't quit, and the team won two of its final three regular season games against Winnisquam and Franklin to secure the play-in spot.
Broderick teamed with sophomores Abby Harris and Hayley Jakubens to form a tough front court, while the sophomore trio of Molly Dietrich, Paige Laliberte and Sarah Veazey handled the guard slots.
Ryan won the Coach's Award and Forge says she left a great imprint on the program during her time on the squad.
"She was the first one to practice and the last one to leave," he said. "She loves the game and was very positive all season and has been for four seasons for me."