The Saint Thomas Aquinas School’s fifth and sixth grade girls’ basketball team had an impressive 2014-15 campaign that culminated with two championships and an excellent showing at the New England Regional Catholic Youth Organization Tournament at the end of March.
After posting an 8-2 regular season and putting together a winning streak to end the regular campaign, head coach Rob Daziel’s Saint Thomas bunch bested a Manchester opponent to snare the New Hampshire Catholic Schools’ crown and a Nashua team to claim the Granite State CYO tourney title.
Daziel – a Londonderry High School graduate who coaches the Pinkerton Academy girls’ varsity lacrosse team – then saw his skilled charges make it as far as the semifinal-round of the regional tournament.
The Derry contingent sputtered a bit in its first three games of the regular season before making some key defensive adjustments to great effect. It then found its stride and began piling up the wins, not dropping a decision for more than three months.
“After starting the season at 1-2 by winning our first game but then losing the next two, we finished at 8-2,” said coach Daziel. “After losing the second straight game on Dec. 14, we didn’t lose another game until the New England Regional Catholic School tournament semifinal match-up with St. Thomas Aquinas of Bridgeport, Conn., on March 28.”
The local cagers defeated the contingent from Saint Catherine’s of Manchester in bagging the state championship, and later the tough Resurrection Church crew of Nashua in the CYO title battle.
“We had lost to them during the regular season, 17-6. That was our last loss of the regular season,” said Daziel of the Nashua opponent.
The Derry hoopsters downed the Our Lady of Mount Carmel cagers from Hartford, Conn., in regional tourney quarterfinal play, but were then bested by the Saint Thomas bunch from Bridgeport. That Connecticut crew went on to win the New England championship.
“Our success is credited to a very stingy defense,” said Daziel. “After our second loss of the season, the team developed a man-to-man, half-court press and tough full-court press that allowed an average of only 12 points for the remainder of the regular season. Prior to the defensive scheme change, we allowed an average of 23 points against us in the first three games. Defense was definitely the key to the successful season.”
The title-winning Derry contingent’s talented and plenty determined players included Lauren Sweeney, Caroline Daziel, Emilee Gagne, Riley Masterson, Jackie Dubray, Emily Lucinskus, Guilia Pallucci, Christina Snicer, Gabby Gilbert, Laura Parady, and Olivia Trapanne. Coach Daziel was ably assisted by Greg Snicer and Ken Dubray.