By Greg Phipps
When asked about the performance of his girls’ basketball team this season, Peabody head coach Stan McKeen pointed to the very beginning of the campaign. “We started off 1-5 and never completely recovered from it,” he said. “We then won five of seven and were 6-7 at one point. But we never could get back to where we wanted to be.”
The Tanners ended the season at 8-12 overall and missed this year’s playoff tournament after losing nonleague games to Woburn and Chelmsford last week. McKeen said nonconference contests proved to be a bugaboo for Peabody this season. “We were 8-7 in the [Northeastern Conference] but 0-5 in nonleague games. That pretty much sums up the season in many ways,” he said. “We played tough teams out of conference like Woburn, Masco, Chelmsford and Newburyport, and we played Danvers twice in our own league. Overall, I think we were competitive. This was a rebuilding year for us, too.”
McKeen pointed out that nearly three-quarters of this year’s team had no previous varsity experience. “That was the biggest thing. Going from junior varsity to varsity is a big step; it’s a huge change, and I think the kids found out just how difficult it is,” he said. “We’re losing just three seniors, so most of the team is coming back and that’s a plus for us.”
Junior forward Catherine Manning, who averaged a double-double in points and rebounds this season, and center Liz Zaiter will be back in 2018-19, along with guard Kristina Rossignoll, forward Jonalyn Carpenter and guard Colleen Crotty among others. The developmental side of the picture continues to look good, as this year’s junior varsity team finished 13-5.
Senior co-captains Serena Laro and Jordan Muse are departing. Laro was a scrappy leader and Muse was the team’s top ball handler and quarterback of the offense.
Despite their struggles at times, the Tanners still could have qualified for the postseason but two home losses, in particular, were backbreakers. Peabody dropped a 60-55 overtime game to Everett when it missed 11 of 12 foul shots in the fourth quarter. The Tanners also gave up an early 18-5 lead in a disappointing setback against Somerville. “Those two games were definitely keys to our season. If we had won them, we’d most likely be in the playoffs. They definitely hurt,” McKeen observed.
All told, McKeen said, his players continued to battle hard throughout the season. “Even in the last game [when out of playoff contention] we never quit,” he said. “That’s the one thing about this team – no matter what the score was we played hard to the end of every game. That’s all you can ask for.”