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Defense first approach for Nipmuc Girls’ Hoops

The Nipmuc girls’ varsity basketball team was joined by the JV squad and the Miscoe middle school team at a recent game. Photo contributed by Missy Rhodes 

By Chris Villani

The Nipmuc girls’ basketball team graduated three seniors from last year’s team who carried the load on offense, two of whom are playing in college right now. So, it comes as little surprise that head coach Missy Rhodes’ team has had to adapt its style this season.

“I feel like we have a bit more of an athletic group this year,” Rhodes said. “So we are able to press a bit more and rely on our pressure defense in the hopes of scoring quick transition points. Last year, we ran more half court sets.”

Nipmuc’s new approach has led to some bumps along the way, Rhodes said, but the team is getting better and has been particularly strong on the defensive end.

“I am most impressed by our defense this year,” the coach said. “We can hang our hats on that, and we have done a good job on offense taking the right shots, they just won’t fall.”

When the scoring has come for Nipmuc, it has been a balanced attack with different players stepping up on different nights.

Rhodes praised the leadership of her three seniors, Meg McCobb, Danielle Clish, and Maria Ceruti. McCobb is one of the two team captains, along with junior Paige Anderson.

“They have all stepped up leadership-wise,” Rhodes said.

As the season progresses, Rhodes said Nipmuc plans to rely more on defensive pressure with an eye towards forcing turnovers and creating offense. 

“I think it’s important that we focus on running our offense correctly,” Rhodes said, “looking for the right shots and taking the right shots as a team. The girls are getting quality experience that will help them in the future.”

Rhodes had high praise for the quality of the student athletes on her team this season. 

“We have a fun group and good team camaraderie this year,” Rhodes said. “I think everyone is trying to focus on being the best they can be, playing one game at a time, and reaching our potential.”

Nipmuc has also been focused on building the next generation of basketball players and spends time working with youth players every weekend.

“Our high school players help teach the game to our K-7th graders and, in return, we've gotten a lot of support at our games from these players,” Rhodes said. “It’s really special to see the positive impact my players have on the next generation of Nipmuc athletes.”