West Bridgewater overcoming depth challenges
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It may be hard to coach a team with only eight players, one of which is in middle school, but West Bridgewater coach Steve Barrett has accepted the challenge.
Despite having a limited amount of players try out for the team, the small Division 4 school is off to another strong start. Led by all juniors, including captain Brittany Stone, who is averaging 22 points, the Wildcats are 10-0 and en route to another tournament run after qualifying for the postseason on Friday in a 27-point victory over Bristol Aggie.
Barrett took over the position in the 1980-’81 season after he was appointed athletic director. With the season approaching and no one to coach the squad, Barrett said he would step in and coach the girls for one season.
One season, however, turned into 32.
“After that year I just enjoyed it so much, we did pretty well the first year and it just evolved. After that I just stayed in the position,” Barrett said.
What keeps him motivated? Not 540 wins, not division titles, and not 32 tournament appearances.
“Its the kids. They are just great kids. I enjoy seeing them develop, I enjoy seeing them improve,” said Barrett.
While it is often said that teams reflect their coaches, Barrett believes otherwise. The dedication and enthusiasm of the Wildcats drives the coach to continue to go out and coach his team every night.
“When the kids stop wanting to work hard that’s when I’ll stop,” Barrett said. “We’ve had a phenomenal group of kids that continue to want to work hard.”
One of Barrett’s challenges this season is his small group of kids. Barrett found himself forced to bring up middle schools kids from the junior varsity team to sit on the bench and give the his starters a rest at the end of the game.
“Challenge is rotating kids and keeping them fresh because we don’t have a lot of depth, a lot of substitutes.”
“We brought up some younger kids if we’re leading so we can bring out the starters. Worst thing is to have the starters get hurt in a game that we had control of.”
While the Wildcats quarterfinal loss last year still lingers, the team’s main goal is to focus on the present.
“The first goal is to be better in the end than you are in the middle,” Barrett said. “We want to continue to improve because sometimes teams can peak midway through in the year and then tail off.”
“We have a long way to go. There a 10 games left in the season, so we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.’’
McDonald’s nominees announced
The list of nominees for the 12th annual McDonald’s All-American games is out and three Massachusetts athletes are on it. Newton South’s Kayla Burton, Rivers School’s Emilee Daley, and Medway’s Sarah Hope were all nominated to play in the game.
The committee will announce their final roster during the McDonald’s All-American Games selection show 5 p.m. Feb. 14 on ESPNU.
The game will take place on Wednesday, April 3 at 7 p.m. from Chicago’s United Center and will be aired on ESPN.
Games of the week
No.4 Medfield at No. 3 Archbishop Williams, Thurs., 6:30 p.m. — With just a loss to Fontbonne, this may be Medfield’s second if it’s not careful. The Bishops’ suffocating half court zone defense has been hard for opponents all season. The Bishops, who have struggled as of late in their half court offense, look to force turnovers and score off of easy baskets. Medfield will need to diminish turnovers and be patient on offense in order to overcome the Bishops.
No.6 Central Catholic at No. Andover, Fri. 7 p.m. — These two teams are familiar with one another. The Raiders snapped Andover’s 42-game winning streak earlier in the season during the holiday tournament. In their first meeting, the Golden Warriors could not get into their offense. The Central Catholic defense forced the Golden Warriors out of their comfort zone, causing turnovers and easy baskets for the Raiders. Expect Andover to enter this game prepared for the Raiders defensive intensity.