DEDHAM, Mass. -- As if winning 300 games wasn’t impressive enough, the way in which Nobles and Greenough girls' basketball coach Alex Gallagher has reached that milestone is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
When the Bulldogs bested visiting Thayer Academy, 48-22, on Saturday afternoon, the 40-year-old Gallagher picked up win number 300 in just his 16th season on the sidelines.
“You’ve gotta coach really talented kids,” Gallagher said. “I went to Weston for a couple years and have been the coach here for the last 12. 300 just means you’ve done it for a while and you had really talented kids. Today just makes me think of how blessed I’ve been.”
At Weston, he coached the Wildcat boys to three Dual County Championships, two North Sectional titles and the 1998 state title.
And his time at Nobles has been even better. The Bulldogs (9-0) have won nine straight ISL crowns. In fact, they haven’t even lost a league since 2006 – winning 64 straight ISL games.
“It’s always tough playing them,” Thayer head coach William O’Dwyer said. “Three years ago, we took them to overtime and it felt like it was a great thing, it felt like we won, because it’s very hard to compete with them on a consistent leve.”
The way Gallagher tells it, he’s had nothing to do with that sustained success throughout his career.
“He’s the best coach I’ve ever had – including my father, who also coached me,” said junior and reigning co-ISL MVP Lauren Dillon. “He likes to blame the wins on us and all the kids he’s coached, but it’s all him.
“It always been him. He created this program and we follow everything he does and that’s why we win games.”
The driving force behind the success Gallagher’s teams have experienced can be summed up with a series of what could be confused as clichés.
“We’re a defensive team that can score the basketball,” he said. “That’s who we are. We put a lot of pride into the way we play defense.
Our programs talks a lot about being a family and having each other’s back and we believe we send a message about having each other’s back on every single defensive possession. We go out and defend the basketball – it’s not ‘I gotta make sure my kid doesn’t score,’ it’s ‘I gotta make sure the other team doesn’t score.”
Cliché or not, it was clear yesterday that his girls have bought in. They used a smothering defensive attack to race out to an 18-2 lead and never looked back. They allowed just five points in the first half, and had the game sewn up before halftime.
“We really pride ourselves on we always show up to play,” Gallagher said. “The depth of our program – and we showed it a little bit today – we believe the fifteenth kid on the roster is as important as the first.”
Added Dillon: “All 15 players played today, and we couldn’t do it without everyone. Everyone has such big importance on this team and that’s what makes us great and helps us win all of those games.”
It’s not just getting everyone on the floor, Nobles and Greenough ultimately gets everyone involved. They had 10 different players score in the win over Thayer, led by 10 each from junior Kate Kerrigan and freshman Amy Duggan.
Freshman Katie Benzan added six points, senior and Amherst College-bound Hannah Peterson tallied eight, Kylie Mattox scored five and Jenn Maund chipped in four in the win.
What we do every day in practice is we want practice to be more competitive than what we’re going to see in games.
“I you want to come score 25 a game, this isn’t the right place to come,” Gallagher said. “If you want to come and have a chance to win every chance you go out, this is a great place to come. We’re going to play a lot of kids and share the basketball and we’re going to do the best we can to make each other as successful as possible.”
The effect of getting the whole team involved has been obvious.
“I’ve been on other teams – even here at Nobles, and the basketball team is different than anyone other program, and not just because of the level of success,” Peterson said. “Alex really tries to create a sense of family, and we’re so close as a team that we’d do anything to fight for each other and that makes a difference in tough games. “
On the other side of things, freshman Caroline Fitzgerald led the way with nine points and Lexi Windsor added eight for Thayer (3-5).