By Greg Phipps
Peabody High School girls’ basketball head coach Stan McKeen said last winter was the only season in his previous four years at the helm that his squad had not qualified for the postseason tournament. The 2018-19 Tanners are looking to rectify that and make a return to the playoffs.
“That’s our first priority. Then, obviously, we hope we can get a first-round game at home and, hopefully, go from there,” said McKeen, whose unit finished 8-12 last year. “This is my fifth year and last year was the first time we didn’t make the playoffs. The girls who are coming back [from last season’s team], especially the two captains, are very intent on us getting back there this time.”
Co-captains Kristina Rossignoll, who plays guard and forward, and forward Catherine Manning, the team’s top scorer last winter, lead a squad that has six returnees from last season’s varsity. “We graduated three seniors last year. Forward-wise we’re in really good shape this season,” McKeen pointed out. “In fact, we’re loaded with forwards, but the guard position is still a bit up in the air.”
Citing a strong contingent of forwards that includes Manning, Amber Kiricoples, Jonalyn Carpenter, Liz Zaiter, Brooke Hodas, Georgia Leon and newcomer Deana Geomelos, a transfer from Austin Prep, McKeen said the coaches are looking at a number of different players to fill the full-time guard role. Returnees Emily Carney and Colleen Crotty are two of the players being considered. Crotty is currently nursing a shoulder injury but “would be a good guard option when healthy,” according to McKeen.
Another possibility at the guard spot is freshman Oluchi Okananwa, who has impressed in preseason action. “She’s looked really good and has great basketball skills on the court,” McKeen observed. “But we’ll have to figure out what the best position is for her.”
Other players being counted on to contribute are guard Alyssa Saraceni and forward Kaitlin Gorman.
The Tanners open their season this Friday night when they host Revere in a Northeastern Conference clash. The varsity game has a scheduled 7 p.m. start.