Boston High School: Alana Gilmer

Snapshot: A Shot For Life photo shoot

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
12:21
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HANOVER, Mass. -- Yesterday afternoon, ahead of Aug. 2's second annual Shot For Life Challenge, we held a small photo shoot with several of this year's participants, at the University Sports Complex.

Last month, we unveiled the announced participants for this year's event, which has added a girls division and a dunk contest. Last year, 12 shooters from around Massachusetts convened at Hanover's University Sports Complex and shot jumpers for two hours, competing for the honor of being named the state's best shooter, and raising more than $10,000 for brain cancer research. Proceeds for this year's event go to brain cancer research at both Children’s Hospital in Boston and Dr. Curry Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Joining A Shot For Life founder Mike Slonina in yesterday's shoot were Catholic Memorial's Brandon Twitty, Mansfield's Ryan Boulter, Westford Academy's Samantha Hyslip and Archbishop Williams' Alana Gilmer.

D3 Girls Final: Archbishop Williams 60, Lee 33

March, 17, 2013
3/17/13
1:02
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WORCESTER, Mass. -- It was a battle of an Eastern Mass. power and a Western Mass. one when the Archbishop Williams girls basketball team squared with Lee High at the DCU Center in Worcester in the Division 3 state championship game on Saturday morning. Lee has won seven state crowns in 14 appearances since 1989, but this morning it was Williams reigning supreme as they dispatched the Wildcats, 60-33, to win their fourth state championship.

“I have no words -– I mean, I’ve played on this team for four years working to win a state championship,” said Bishops captain Sara Ryan. “Leaving as a senior and state champion is unbelievable. I can’t even describe it.”

It was Ryan, a senior headed for Southern New Hampshire next year, who set the Bishops (23-5) in motion toward the crown on Saturday. The 5-foot-8 guard buried a deep three on Williams first possession, after which the Bishops led for the remainder of the contest.

“We’ve had strong leadership in the captain position for a while now,” said Bishops coach Jim Bancroft. “I hate to lose her, but it’s time for her to move on. This past year, she took everything she learned from her first three years and now she’s passing that on to the group.”

Added sophomore Alana Gilmer: “I really can’t even imagine school or basketball without her. She’s been amazing all year. I love her so much. She’s one of the best captains we’ve ever had.”

And just as the Bishops have followed their leader all season, they continued to in the final game of her career on Saturday.
Ryan’s 3-pointer was the beginning of a 13-0 run for AW, in which all five starters netted at least one basket.

“We just spread the ball around,” said junior point guard Leah Spencer. “We know we can’t be selfish. We can’t score without passing the ball and moving around the court.”

They certainly did that against Lee (19-6), with nine different players scoring in the win.

Jaylen Williams and Gilmer, both sophomores, each netted a team-high 14 points. Williams also had 10 rebounds and three blocks, while Gilmer chipped in five rebounds, three blocks and a pair of steal in the win.

Freshman Ednaija Lassiter joined the sophomores in double figures, scoring 11 points –- including nine during a 19-point third quarter for the Bishops.

Ryan finished with six points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals while Spencer added seven points, seven rebounds and four assists for the state champs.

Archbishop Williams used an obvious height advantage to boost its offense by providing plenty of second and third chance looks for the Bishops. They held a 51-24 rebounding advantage in the game, and a whopping 24 of theirs came on the offensive end.

Perhaps the only thing more impressive than their rebounding was a staunch defensive attack –- one which allowed less than 40 points in each of the last two games in what has to be considered among the Bishops top performances of the season.

“Defensively, yes it was,” said Archbishop Williams coach Jim Bancroft. “The last two games really –- this one and the game with Pentucket –- we preached defense and rebounds and metal preparedness for these games and I’m very happy with the way the girls performed.”

Only Lee senior Eileen Dooley was able to garner much success on offense, as she scored a game-high 16 points.

Gilmer was tasked with guarding Western Mass. Player of the Year Stephanie Young, who notched 30 points on Monday in Lee’s Central/Western Mass state semifinal game

The sophomore forward wreaked havoc on Young, holding her to just three points on a 1-for-16 shooting day.

“One of our goals was to get in her face, distract her and contest her shots,” said Bancroft. “I saw her during warm-ups and she was knocking down shot after shot after shot.”

END OF TWO ERAS
Lee coach Gary ‘Gig’ Wellington coached his last game for the Wildcats after six years on the bench, and there wasn’t another group of girls he’d have preferred to finish his career with.

“I’ve had a blast,” Wellington said. “I wouldn’t want to do it with any other team. If you told me I could have switched teams here today, I wouldn’t do it. This is my team. I’ll keep those kids. I’m very proud of those kids. They worked very hard to get here.”

Like Wellington, Bancroft has also coached his final game at the Division 3 level, but for very different reasons. Archbishop Williams is moving Division 1 next year as a means to find a new challenge.

“I don’t even know that it’ll be tougher than what we see now –- we face a lot of good teams in Division 3,” said Bancroft. “Sometimes the best teams are in Division 1, sometimes in Division 2 and sometimes in Division 3, but we’re always trying to challenge ourselves.”

Comcast: No. 2 Archies 45, No. 4 Billerica 39

February, 17, 2013
2/17/13
11:04
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WELLESLEY, Mass. -– When the schedule was released for the Comcast IAABO Board 27 Classic, the opening game on the docket raised the eyebrows of many who follow Massachusetts high school girl’s basketball.

Catholic Central League champion No. 2 Archbishop Williams and Merrimack Valley Conference Large champion No. 4 Billerica opened Sunday’s tournament at Babson College in front of a packed house.

After 32 minutes of grinding, defensive basketball it was Archbishop Williams (17-4) who came out on top as they outlasted Billerica, 45-39, in the first girls semifinal game.

Archies started and finished the game strong despite Billerica hanging tough throughout. Both teams employed various zone and match-up defenses that helped dictate the pace of the low-scoring affair.

Archies junior guard Leah Spencer scored seven of her game-high 13 points in the opening quarter, as Archies took a 14-7 lead out of the gate.

Billerica (16-2) trailed for most of the game, until the final quarter of play when they battled back to tie it at 36-36. The Indians overcame a clear height advantage to get to loose balls and grind their way back into the contest.

“Some shots started to fall in the second half,” Billerica head coach Chris Doneski said after the game. “We are usually pretty good at being able to score on the interior but their size really took a lot of that away.”

With 4:37 remaining in the game and the game tied at 36-36, Archies ran off seven straight points in less than two minutes to give them the momentum and cushion to hold on for the win.

Archbishop Williams converted 10-of-13 free throws in the final quarter of play to hold off any final comeback attempt.

Playing their third game in four days, Archbishop Williams battled through some fatigue to get the necessary defensive stops down the stretch.

“This is our third game in four days against three good teams,” Archbishop Williams head coach Jim Bancroft said. “We will take the win and hopefully be ready to go for tomorrow.”

Archies sophomore forward Alana Gilmer scored eight points, grabbed nine rebounds and had four steals in the win. Junior forward Olivia Conrad (10 points) and sophomore center Jaylen Williams (10 rebounds, four blocks) were also key factors in the paint for Archies.

Billerica was led by senior center Joslyn King (10 points, 13 rebounds). King played her best basketball in Billerica’s fourth quarter comeback run. Senior guard Brittany Lomanno and senior forward Danielle Nickerson both had eight points for the Indians.

Clutch Senior: Archie’s senior guard Sara Ryan was big down the stretch with two steals and five points -- including a pivotal and-one conversion, in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to help seal the victory.

The Southern New Hampshire University-bound Ryan scored 10 points to go with four steals on the afternoon.

“She has been on Varsity for four years so she understands what we are trying to,” Bancroft added. “She steps in and talks to the team at the half and at timeouts and gives the team positive feedback. She has turned out to be a really good leader.”

Monday’s match-ups: No. 2 Archbishop Williams will take on No. 1 Reading in Monday’s final. The two top teams in ESPN Boston’s latest girls poll will tip at 2:30 p.m. at Babson.

Reading defeated Natick 64-40 n the second semi-final game. Richmond-bound forward Olivia Healy (30 points) and junior guard Bridget Clements (14 points, all in the first half) led the way for the Rockets.

The consolation game between Billerica and Natick starts the final day of action at 1 p.m.

Roundtable: Midseason All-State, Superlatives

January, 25, 2013
1/25/13
3:46
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At the midpoint of the MIAA basketball season, we've asked our panel of experts to submit their picks for ESPN Boston All-State, as well as Mr. and Miss Basketball along with a number of superlatives:

***

Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools Editor


All-State Super Team
G – Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G – Darien Fernandez, Sr., Wareham
G – Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
G/F – Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
F/C – Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

Second Team
G – Jaylen Blakely, Sr., Brockton
G – Nick McKenna, Sr., Danvers
F – Nick Cambio, Jr., Central Catholic
F – Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield
F – Isaiah Nelsen, Sr., North Andover

Third Team
G – Riyadh Asad, Sr., West Springfield
G – Juwan Gooding, Soph., New Mission
F - Sam Dowden, Sr., Andover
C - Dakari Wornum, Sr., Dorchester
C – Chris Baldwin, Soph., Springfield Central

Girls Super Team
G - Infiniti Thomas-Waheed, Jr., Newton North
G - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
F - Caitlyn Abela, Sr., Oliver Ames
C - Molly Reagan, Soph., Braintree

Mr. Basketball Finalists
Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic – WINNER
Darien Fernandez, Sr., Wareham
Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland
Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central

Defensive Player of the Year – Drew Healy, Lowell
Coach of the Year – John Walsh, Danvers
Best Shooter – Tyler Nelson, Central Catholic
Biggest surprise (player) – Dakari Wornum, Dorchester
Biggest surprise (team) – St. Peter-Marian
Most underrated (player) – David Stewart, Madison Park
Most underrated (team) – Melrose

All-Defensive
G – Tyree Weston, Soph., New Bedford
G – Marcus Middleton, Sr., Stoughton
F – Isshiah Coleman, Sr., New Mission
F – Prince Unaegbu, Sr., Brighton
C – Drew Healy, Sr., Lowell

All-Shooters
Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
Tommy Mobley, Soph., Newton North
Daivon Edwards, Sr., Brighton
Giulien Smith, Soph., Catholic Memorial
Ben Judson, Soph., St. John's Prep

Second half sleepers to watch

Dorchester
The Bears are a streaky team, but also a gritty one, as shown in their 58-57 loss to East Boston on Wednesday. Dakari Wornum has been one of the breakout stars of the first half of the season, but a number of athletic shooters -- including Jeduan Langston, Khalil Newson, Ceejae Agnew-Carter and Dean Lee -- can make this team explode at any moment. The expected return of 6-foot-7 junior D'Bryant Coraprez should bolser the frontcourt too.

Sharon
We knew junior point guard Brian Mukasa (18.8 points per game) was good, and we though he had potential to be this good, but we had questions about the Eagles' supporting cast. Jimmy Fritzon (14.2 points per game) has some answers.

Waltham
Hawks are my favorite to win the Dual County League's Large division, in a year of parity across the board. Keep an eye on Mike Gelineau, one of the area's more underrated shooters.

Case
Most expected Wareham to run away with the South Coast Conference (again), but guess who's sitting at 11-2 and 8-1 in the league? The Cardinals are allowing a league-best 46 points per game, and face Wareham on Wednesday for a first-place battle in the SCC. Keep an eye on 6-foot-8 senior center Matt Plante.

***

Chris Bradley
ESPN Boston correspondent


All-State Super Team
G - Darien Fernandez, Sr., Wareham
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
F - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
C - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

Second Team
G - Jaylen Blakely, Sr., Brockton
G - Riyadh Asad, Sr., West Springfield
F - Nick Simpson, Sr., Brighton
F - Nick Cambio, Sr., Central Catholic
F - Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield

Third Team
G - Nick McKenna, Sr., Danvers
G - Rod Milton, Sr., Worcester South
F - Sam Dowden, Sr., Andover
F - Isaiah Nelsen, Sr., North Andover
C - Chris Baldwin, Soph., Springfield Central

Girls Super Team
G - Kayla Burton, Sr., Newton South
G/F - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
G/F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
F - Morgan Lumb, Sr., North Andover
C - Molly Reagan, Soph., Braintree

Mr. Basketball Finalists
Tyler Nelson, Central Catholic - WINNER
Darien Fernandez, Wareham
Jameilen Jones, BC High
Tyler Gibson, Rockland
Kamari Robinson, Springfield Central

Defensive Player of the Year - Isshiah Coleman, New Mission
Coach of the Year - Sean Connolly, St. John’s Prep
Best Shooter - Tyler Nelson, Central Catholic
Biggest Surprise (Team) – Wachusett
Biggest Surprise (Player) – KayJuan Bynum, Springfield Putnam
Most Underrated (Player) – Sam Dowden, Andover
Most Underrated (Team) – Dorchester

All-Defensive
G - Marcus Middleton, Sr., Stoughton
G/F - Nate Anderson, Sr., New Mission
F - Isshiah Coleman, Sr., New Mission
C - Alex Cooper, Sr., Wachusett
C - Drew Healy, Sr., Lowell

All-Shooters
Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
Tim Dufficy, Sr., Whitinsville Christian
Tommy Mobley, Soph., Newton North
Zack Berman, Sr., Wachusett
Jaylen Blakely, Sr., Brockton

Second-half sleepers:

Andover
If Connor Merinder is back in time for the tournament, then consider Andover a favorite in Division 1 North. Central Catholic has clearly separated themselves from BC High, St. John’s Prep, Lowell, and Andover so far, but if Andover gets a healthy, productive Merinder back, they will make a run to the Division 1 North final. The Golden Warriors have gone 10-2 thus far without the 6-foot-5 forward, who is considered one of the MIAA’s best in a loaded 2015 class. Sam Dowden has done a great job of leading Andover so far, but getting a healthy Merinder makes them a legitimate contender to be at the DCU Center come March.

Worcester South
South became the first team to finally knock off previously undefeated Wachusett in Central Mass. The Cononels, who with the win moved to 8-2, did so without junior point guard Kasheen Cunningham, one of the area’s best outside shooters. South has the best scorer in Central Mass. in Rod Milton, a strong young big man in Khalil Bryan-Robinson, and a constant threat from outside in Cunningham—with Central Mass. Division 1 as up in the air as it has been in years, look for South to make a run to the Division 1 finals at WPI.

***

Ryan Kilian
Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Mass. Prep Stars (www.massprepstars.com)


Boys Super Team
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
F - Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield
C - Chris Baldwin, Soph., Springfield Central

Girls Super Team
G - Morgan Lumb, Sr., North Andover
G/F - Alana Gilmer, Soph., Archbishop Williams
G/F - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
C - Molly Reagan, Soph., Braintree

Mr. Basketball
Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic

Miss Basketball
Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading

Defensive Player of the Year
Boys: Kendall Hamilton, Sr., Wakefield
Girls: Infiniti Thomas-Waheed, Jr., Newton North

Coach of the Year
Boys: Mike Kasprzak, Melrose
Girls: John McNamara, Pentucket

Best Shooter
Boys: Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
Girls: Morgan Lumb, Sr., North Andover

Biggest Surprise
Boys: Frantzdy Pierrot, Jr., Melrose
Girls: Molly Bent, Soph., Barnstable

Most Underrated Player
Boys: Doug Gemmell, Sr., Central Catholic
Girls: Tess Noguiera, Sr., Pentucket

Most Underrated Team
Boys: Melrose
Girls: Ipswich

Second Half Sleepers

Boys: Wakefield – They have been hanging in the wings with a few losses and have battled some injuries but with a healthy Bruce Brown and continued improved play of Kendall Hamilton, Mikol Blake-Green and others they should be back in the title hunt by the end of the regular season.

Girls: Westford Academy – Westford Academy has played a very difficult schedule, losing to Bishop Feehan, Wachusett and Billerica by a combined five points. They have wins over Lincoln-Sudbury and Arlington Catholic as resume boosters and can play with any team in the state. Juniors Sam Hyslip and Hannah Hackley lead the Grey Ghosts in most statistical categories.

***

Rob Sarmiento
Founder and Editor, Beantown Hoops (www.beantownhoops.com)


First Team
G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
G - Darien Fernandez, Sr., Wareham
F - Sam Dowden, Sr., Andover
F - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland
F - Doug Gemmell, Sr., Central Catholic

Second Team
G - Jaleel Bell, Sr., Wayland
G - Jaylen Blakely, Sr., Brockton
G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
F - Isaiah Nelsen, Sr., North Andover

Third Team
G - Giulien Smith, Soph., Catholic Memorial
G - Juwan Gooding, Soph., New Mission
G/F - Bruce Brown, Soph., Wakefield
F - Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield
F - Nate Anderson, Sr., New Mission

Girls Super Team
G/F - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
G/F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
G/F - Molly Bent, Soph., Barnstable
G/F - Morgan Lumb, Sr., North Andover
F - Sarah Hope, Sr., Medway

Mr. Basketball - Jameilen Jones, BC High
Miss Basketball - Olivia Healy, Reading
Coach of the Year - Mark Antonelli, Somerville
Best Shooter - Tyler Nelson, Central Catholic
Biggest Surprise (player) - Molly Bent, Barnstable (Girls)
Biggest Surprise (team) - North Reading
Most Underrated (player) - Jaleel Bell, Wayland
Most Underrated (team) - Melrose

All-Shooters
Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
Sam Dowden, Sr., Andover
Sam Bohmiller, Sr., Franklin
Tommy Mobely, Soph., Newton North
Mike Gelineau, Sr., Waltham

Second Half Sleepers

Boys: Franklin - Well-coached and playing in a tough conference will make them battle ready come playoff time. Plus, they have a player who can make threes in bunches with Bohmiller.

Girls: Arlington Catholic - Seem to always make a run and their style of play is tough to prepare for. They are young in some key positions, but first half of the season experience will show during the playoffs.

Recap: No. 3 Archies 59. No. 4 St. Mary's (Lynn) 40

January, 13, 2013
1/13/13
2:27
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BOSTON -– Archbishop Williams moved into sole possession of first place in the Catholic Central Large as they defeated league rival St. Mary’s of Lynn 59-40 at Emmanuel College on Saturday night.

Defense and rebounding proved to be the key factors in the second half as the Bishops attacked the offensive glass and used a menacing full-court press to extend the lead in the latter part of the game.

“Our offense is not really clicking as well as it should,” Archbishop Williams head coach Jim Bancroft said after the game. “We are relying on getting some easy hoops off of steals and off of our pressure.”

Leading 28-20 at the half, Archies (6-3) used their full-court press to give St. Mary’s (8-1) trouble and force multiple turnovers. The Bishops outscored St. Mary’s 17-6 in the third to take a commanding 45-26 to the final quarter of play.

The 1-2-1-1 full-court press has become a major asset for the Bishops, who use the pressure defense to their advantage in their confined home-court gym in Braintree.

“It works good in our gym, and in the Catholic Central League a lot of the gyms are real small, so our zone press works really well,” Bancroft said. “Coming in here I was not t sure. We tried it in New Jersey on a couple of bigger courts and struggled with it, but we worked on it in practice and I thought they did a good job.”

The Bishops also controlled the paint and the glass as sophomore forward Alana Gilmer (15 points, eight rebounds, two blocks), junior forward Olivia Conrad (nine points) and 6-foot-3 sophomore center Jaylen Williams (four points, seven rebounds, three blocks) made it difficult for St. Mary’s to earn anything close to the basket.

“We are taller than most teams so we are starting to get used it,” Gilmer said. “We have really worked on getting a body on our player and then go for the ball.”

The Bishops also received strong efforts from their starting backcourt of senior shooting guard Sara Ryan (10 points, five assists) and junior point guard Leah Spencer (nine points, four steals).

St. Mary’s was led by junior point guard Sharell Sanders, who scored 14 of her game-high 18 points in the opening half. The diminutive guard was even more impressive on the glass as she pulled down a team-high nine rebounds to go along with six steals.
Junior guard Jennie Mucciarone (eight points, four steals) and senior Emily Doyle (seven points) both had strong fourth quarters for St. Mary’s.

Early Season Victories: Despite dropping all three out-of-state contests to Blair Academy (N.J.), Nazareth (N.Y.), and La Salle Academy (R.I.), the Bishops have picked up pivotal early season league wins.

On Tuesday night, Archies defeated Arlington Catholic, 60-41, and are now 5-0 in Catholic Central Large play after tonight’s win.

“All of these early wins are very important for us,” Gilmer added. “We want to be number one in the league and these games help us with our goal.”

Match-up Nightmare: The 6-foot Gilmer proved that she has the complete offensive package as she scored from inside the paint and also from the perimeter. Her versatility and athleticism create a match-up nightmare for opposing teams.

One of the premier players in the Class of 2015, Gilmer showed why she has Division 1 suitors in hot pursuit as her improved game and vast skill sets are unique in Massachusetts’ girls basketball scene.

“Up through her freshman year in high school everyone played her as a post player,” Bancroft added. “Last year we turned her around and faced her up and that is where she is going to end up playing at in college. She has become stronger and her foot speed is better now. Her ability to face-up along with her ability to play with her back to the basket makes her tough to cover.”

Roundtable: Preseason MIAA hoop primer

November, 25, 2012
11/25/12
1:34
PM ET
With the first MIAA-sanctioned practices of the 2012-13 season set to commence tomorrow, today we're looking at the top storylines and top players from across the state.

Check back with us later in the preseason for our first Top 25 poll and our Preseason All-State Teams. But for now, here are the storylines to watch, and our projected Super Teams.

***

Brendan Hall
ESPN Boston High Schools editor


Reading Machine Rages On
Had it not been for Andover and superstar Nicole Boudreau, the Division 2 state champ Reading Rockets would have been garnering far more attention last season. The Rockets were one of the state's most dominant forces from wire to wire, going 25-0 en route to the program's first state title. They were one of the state's most explosive offenses (64.3 points per game), and blew out nearly everyone -- their average margin of victory was 27.1, with their only threats coming in the North final (49-46 over Arlington Catholic) and Eastern Mass. Final (71-64 over Scituate, in overtime).

The conversation in Reading starts with Richmond-bound guard/forward Olivia Healy, a two-time ESPN Boston All-State and one of the early favorites for our Miss Basketball award. The 5-foot-10 senior can play any position on the floor, excels on the boards, and is as physical as they come. But every superstar needs a supporting cast, and you can't do much better than Assumption-bound guard Morgan O'Brien in that regard.

With Andover expected to level off following the graduation of one of the MIAA's best ever (Boudreau), we're most likely looking at Reading starting the year at No. 1 in our statewide girls' poll, which will be released later this preseason.

Fierce, Fierce City A
Over the offseason, the Boston City League voted overwhelmingly to split into three tiers for boys basketball, based on competitive balance. And with it, the city's "A" division instantly becomes the state's toughest league. City A is comprised of Brighton, New Mission, Madison Park, Charlestown and East Boston -- all teams expected to start the season in our statewide Top 25 poll -- and with the new scheduling setup, we're looking at appointment viewing in the city nearly every night.

Charlestown-Eastie, Mission-Brighton and Eastie-Madison are the city's three fiercest basketball rivalries. Now, on top of those series, we're getting two installments of Mission-Madison, Brighton-Eastie, Charlestown-Mission, Madison-Brighton, and so forth. Brighton and MP figure to be the favorites here, but this is going to be an absolute grinder of a league. Of the highest degree.

Swat Team
Anyone that watched the University of Kentucky last season can tell you how valuable Anthony Davis was despite an unpolished offensive game. Heck, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four despite going just 1-for-10 from the field in the championship game.

Last year our Defensive Player of the Year award went to a guard, Stoughton's Marcus Middleton, but I'm looking at a number of frontcourt shot-blockers to contend for the award. Any conversation about swatters in the MIAA has to begin with New Mission's Isshiah Coleman, but keep an eye on Cambridge's Fredens Deneus, a 6-foot-6 junior who is expected to have a breakout season. Rockland's Tyler Gibson, a UMass-Lowell commit, will alter many a shot in the South Shore League. Also keep an eye on Holy Name's Dan Kegbeh, only 6-foot-1 but blessed with some impressive ups.

On the girls' side, Holy Name's Brianna Frias is my early favorite for Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot junior committed to Providence over the summer, and averaged six blocks per game last season as the Naps went 20-0 in the regular season and captured the No. 1 seed in Division 1 Central.

Sizzlin' Sophs
Across the state, there are a number of Class of 2015 players to get excited about. Springfield Central's Chris Baldwin has yet to play in an MIAA game, having played his freshman season down the street at Hillside School, but he is already garnering significant hype. Wakefield's Bruce Brown showed freak athletic ability at times during his freshman campaign for the Warriors, and figures to be regarded as one of the state's elite by season's end. Same for Mansfield's Brendan Hill and St. John's of Shrewsbury's Davon Jones.

Central Catholic junior Tyler Nelson is on the short list as everyone's favorite shooter, and deservedly so, but Newton North sophomore guard Tommy Mobley is as automatic as they come. He plays a different role for the Tigers than his older brother, 6-foot-8 Yale forward Greg Kelley, did several years ago. But when you talk about the elite shooters in the state, Mobley has the potential to be in that conversation.

Also keep an eye on Falmouth guard Craig Green, a three-sport star who's already on the radar for track and field. He turned many heads last June, when he placed third in New Englands in the 100-meter dash. He has run as fast as a 10.6 in the event so far in his young career.

On the girls' side, we all know the capabilities of Braintree's Molly Reagan. The 6-foot-1 center was a key cog in the Wamps' run to the Division 1 South title last March, and she already holds Division 1 offers. On the flip side, Archbishop Williams' Jaylen Williams committed to Penn State this past summer despite playing limited minutes for the Bishops.

But the potential speaks for itself. For one, Williams is 6-foot-3 and long. For another, there is plenty of pedigree. She is the daughter of former New England Patriots defensive lineman Brent Williams, and the younger sister of two high Division 1 college football players -- North Carolina offensive tackle Brennan Williams, and Ohio State linebacker Camren Williams.

Open Waters in the North
I'm not sure which will be the more interesting race in the North -- Division 1 girls, or Division 2 boys.

In Division 1 girls, we're looking at a number of contenders in the North. Nobody's counting out Andover in spite of the talent graduated, but it should be an interesting race in the Merrimack Valley Conference with Central Catholic and Billerica figuring to start the year high in many polls. Lincoln-Sudbury will be another contender, led by Lafayette-bound forward Ashley Lutz, as will be Lynn English and reigning Northeastern Conference MVP Catherine Stinson. The ultimate wild card might be Cambridge, led by Georgia Tech-bound guard Donnaizha Fountain. And don't count out Somerville, either, with Indira Evans in the fold.

Division 2 North will be an interesting bracket. New Mission returns a strong core, but so does Brighton, behind returning All-State guard Malik James, forwards Nick Simpson and Prince Unaegbu, and one of the state's best shooters, Daivon Edwards. Ditto Wakefield, with Bruce Brown expected to have a breakout year alongside seniors Kendall Hamilton and Mikol Blake-Green.

SUPER TEAMS

Boys
G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
F - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

Girls
G - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
G - Sarah Hope, Sr., Medway
G/F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
F - Ashley Lutz, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
C - Molly Reagan, Soph., Braintree

***

Ryan Kilian
Editor-in-Chief, New England Prep Stars


Central Reign
Can Central Catholic represent Eastern Massachusetts in the state finals this season in Division 1? Central returns a battle tested and veteran group that represented EMass Division 1 as the top seed in last season’s MIAA tournament. Central boasts key returnees Tyler Nelson, Joel Berroa, Doug Gemmell and Nick Cambio.

Veteran Sophomore Talent
Mansfield’s Brendan Hill and Wakefield’s Bruce Brown are two of the top returning players in Massachusetts. They are also only sophomores. Both sophomores started and lead their respective teams deep into tournament play as freshman and we can expect even bigger seasons from both this year.

Best Frontcourt?
Massachusetts has a very strong group of point guards this season but the depth in the frontcourt is down in part of the continued flood of players to prep schools. New Mission (Nate Anderson and Isshiah Coleman) and Central Catholic (Gemmell and Cambio) are at the top of the frontcourt ranks but look out for North Andover and Charlestown to also have improved front lines with the development of returning veterans as well as additions of new talent to the mix.

Replacing Boudreau
It will be impossible to replace two-time Miss Basketball Nicole Boudreau (Boston College), but Andover does return senior Devon Caveany, and the glue of the squad in top defenders Jackie and Rebecca Alois. Expect some more classic Central Catholic and Andover battles for years to come in the MVC.

Special time for City of Braintree
The city of Braintree boasts some the best young female talent in the state, with Braintree High School and Archbishop Williams sharing city quarters.

Braintree returns Coach of the Year Kristen McDonnell and a lineup featuring returning senior Rachel Norton, and sophomores Ashley Russell, Bridget Herlihy, and Molly Reagan. Archbishop Williams returns Southern New Hampshire commits Olivia Conrad and Sara Ryan along with Alana Gilmer and Penn State commit Jaylen Williams.

SUPER TEAMS

Boys
G - Bruce Brown, Soph., Wakefield
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
G - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
F - Brendan Hill, Soph., Mansfield
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central

Girls
G - Kayla Burton, Sr., Newton South
G - Donaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge Rindge
G - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading
G - Tajanay Veiga-Lee, Sr., Fenway
F - Saliah Serrette, Sr., Weston

***

Chris Bradley
ESPN Boston correspondent


Springfield Central Is Back
Saying that Kamari Robinson and sophomore transfer Chris Baldwin are the best frontcourt in the state is no stretch. Robinson helped lead Central to last year’s division 1 state title, averaging a double double while the Golden Eagles went undefeated against MIAA opponents. The 6-foot-7 Baldwin is already drawing in interest from high major division 1 college programs. A strong, athletic forward who is known for his rebounding and sky-rising dunks, he’ll make quite a duo with Robinson, a member of last year’s ESPN Boston All-State Team.

Senior Cornelius Tyson could be primed for a big year as well. The 6-foot-1 guard made quite a showing in last year’s state championship game against Brockton, knocking down four 3-pointers in the second half to lead Central to the Division 1 title.

Can anyone knock off St. John's of Shrewsbury?
The Inter-High has two legitimate Top 25 teams in Worcester South and Doherty. Will this finally be the year that St. John’s doesn’t run away with the Division 1 tournament in Central Mass.? The Pioneers have won five consecutive Central Mass. Division 1 championships, and return yet another talented core from last year’s team. Sophomore point guard Davon Jones has already asserted himself as one of the best guards in the western half of the state, juniors Charlie Murray and TJ Kelley will be a tough duo on the post, and 6-foot-5 senior Ken Harrington is one of the best shooters in central Mass.

Brighton looking for revenge
Last year’s loss to Mahar in the Division 2 state title game was demoralizing to say the least for the Bengals, but another year of maturity should help Brighton come tournament time this year. Junior playmaking guard Malik James will be one of the very best in the MIAA, and he’ll have plenty of weapons around him with forward Nick Simpson and guards Theo Oribhabor and Daivon Edwards. The Boston City League will be a rock fight this year, but battle-tested Brighton will reap the benefits of a tough schedule come tournament time.

New Mission young, but talented
Sophomore guards Greg Bridges, Randy Glenn, and Juwan Gooding will make for quite a show this year when put together with 6-foot-5 forward Isshiah Coleman and 6-foot-7 forward Nate Anderson. The Titans will be young, with less experience at the guard position than many of their opponents, but when all is said and done this could end up being the most talented team in the state this year.

Who will emerge in D3?
Picking favorites in Division 3 is like splitting hairs. Wareham has Darien Fernandez, a waterbug considered one of the best point guards in the state. Danvers returns four starters from last year’s state title team. Quaboag has one of the best inside-out duos in D3 with Thomas Jankins and sophomore Jake Wisniewski. Hopedale has a deep, versatile lineup. Whitinsville Christian has won three straight central Mass. championships. Out in Pittsfield, St. Joseph Central returns the majority of their core from last year’s state finals team—including scoring guard Taverick "Tank" Roberson. Any of these teams could emerge and make a deep run into the tournament in February and March.

SUPER TEAMS

Boys
G - Malik James, Jr., Brighton
G - Tyler Nelson, Jr., Central Catholic
F - Jameilen Jones, Sr., BC High
F - Kamari Robinson, Sr., Springfield Central
F - Tyler Gibson, Sr., Rockland

Girls
G - Kayla Burton, Sr., Newton South
G - Sarah Hope, Sr., Medway
G - Donnaizha Fountain, Sr., Cambridge
F - Casey McLaughlin, Sr., Central Catholic
F - Olivia Healy, Sr., Reading

UMass offers Archies SF Alana Gilmer

July, 18, 2012
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Archbishop Williams Class of 2015 forward Alana Gilmer received a scholarship offer on Monday from UMass, per her head coach with Bay State Magic AAU club, Megan Methven.

The 6-foot small forward is an Easton resident who contributed major minutes last season to a Bishops squad that made their sixth straight appearance in the MIAA Division 3 South finals. She averaged 10 points and seven rebounds on the season for Archies.

Gilmer's offer from the Minutewomen is just the latest instance of the growing line of suitors for the Bishops' heralded 2015 class. Last month, Ohio State offered Archies' 6-foot-3 forward Jaylen Williams.

Recap: No. 6 Archies 73, No. 22 St. Mary's 51

January, 9, 2012
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LYNN, Mass. — Archbishop Williams’ depth, and length in the frontcourt, were too much for St. Mary’s of Lynn, as the Bishops ran away with a 73-51 victory last night at Tony Conigliaro Gymnasium.

Sara Ryan filled the stat sheet with 19 points, seven steals, seven assists, six rebounds and four blocks. Kayla Papazian dominated the second half on the interior with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Alana Gilmer added 12 points and three blocks to push the Bishops to 8-1 on the season.

The blueprint for the Bishops this season is to hit their opponents with a steady flow of production from the starting five to a solid core off the bench. Ryan and Papazian have been the clear cut go-to players so far this season -- especially in their 104-point outburst against Bishop Feehan –- and with players like Gilmer, Leah Spencer, Michaela Flanagan and Aidan Duquette all ready to come in compete at a similar level, it makes life a little more difficult on opposing coaching staffs.

“The plan is that we keep going at a steady pace,” said Bancroft. “Hopefully, the opponent can’t keep up with us, but you never know.”

The defending Div. 3 state champions were keeping pace with the Bishops in the first half, but the guests started to treat their hosts rather rudely in the third.

The Bishops used stifling press defense, spearheaded by Ryan, to bolt out on a 15-4 run in the period. Olivia Conrad worked well in the post with three straight assists, one to Spencer and the other two to Papazian.

Ryan stole the ball at half court and went in for a lay-in and she put home another lay-up off the glass after another steal. Ryan then nailed a back breaking 3-pointer to push the lead to 19.

“Not most high school girls can go that deep and really not miss a beat,” said Lady Spartans’ head coach Jeff Newhall.

Bishops Rule the Glass: Bancroft has had plenty of guard-oriented teams during his time as Bishops head coach, but this version has plenty of balance up front.

The Bishops have six players who stand 5-foot-9 or taller, and on this night they owned the glass with a 42-21 advantage. Papazian was best in the second half on the glass with nine of her 10 rebounds. She deposited those offensive boards into easy lay-ins to keep the Lady Spartans from sniffing a comeback of any sorts.

More Time for Jaylen: Jaylen Williams, the Bishops 6-foot-3-inch freshman, is still working her way back into form after tweaking her ankle in the first game, and the youngster got some valuable minutes during the first half.

Williams had her moments as an inside presence as she blocked two shots and forced some awkward looking attempts by the Lady Spartans. She did also show that she is still a freshman and that playing against opponents with more experience and physical strength is something she’ll have to get used to.

“Now she’s participating in practice 100 percent, so now we are working her back into the games,” said Bancroft. “We are trying to get her game going. She’s playing against stronger than her and older than her. We need to get her into the games and hopefully use her a lot more as the season goes along.

Next Player Up for St. Mary's: Things have changed for St. Mary’s after the 3-0 start, and after losing Brianna Rudolph to a broken ankle. The Lady Spartans are 5-4 after the loss and looking to right the ship with a cast of younger, but talented players.

“We were getting into a comfort level with our rotation and then she goes down everything kind of changes,” said Newhall. “There’s still an adjustment period for us. On the flip side, playing in this league against this competition is only going to make us better.”

Sophomore Sharell Sanders showed flashes as an up-and-coming point guard for Newhall. She was fearless going to the hall against the much bigger Bishops’ front-line and she showed ranged with two deep 3-pointers.

Sanders finished with 14 points and four steals before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.

“She does play the game as she possibly can,” said Newhall. “She does put tremendous pressure on the ball. She rushes the ball up and her decision making is good most of the times and she’s under a lot of pressure on both ends of the floor.”

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