Boston High School: Sharell Sanders

Recap: No. 9 St. Mary's 64, No. 2 Medfield 56

February, 12, 2014
Feb 12
LYNN, Mass. -– As a coach, there are good wins and then there are special wins.

Wednesday night was one of those special wins for No. 9 St. Mary’s coach Jeff Newhall and the Spartans program as they topped undefeated and No. 2 ranked Medfield 64-56. It was Medfield’s first loss in 24 games, a streak that started Feb. 19, 2013.

“It’s a great opponent, they are a great team, a championship team,” Newhall said. “They haven’t lost a game in a year. I think tonight is more about the St. Mary’s basketball program and what we’ve built here over the number of years our players have been here. To be able to have a team like Medfield want to travel and come here and play us non-league and then be able to beat them.

“I think we are a very good basketball team, we’ve only lost four times in the last two years. We’re coming off a loss Friday night, and we played with a real sense of urgency tonight that we didn’t have Friday.”

It was that sense of urgency that carried the Spartans to a 13-4 run midway through the third quarter to open up what was a three-point game at the break. Medfield did close the gap at the end of the third, but St. Mary’s built a 46-37 lead entering the fourth quarter.

“We said at the half we should have been ahead by more than three,” Newhall said. “We thought we missed a lot of easy shots. We allowed them to get a lot of second chance points so at the half we said this is a matter of finishing our shots and not allowing second chance points. We basically said this quarter is a three-point game, they are either going to tie you or take the lead, or you guys are going to get it to ten and we got it to ten.”

As expected, Medfield didn’t go down without a fight. Trailing 56-43 with just under four minutes remaining, they went on a 11-2 run to cut the deficit to four, 58-54 with less than a minute remaining. But a clutch runner in the lane from senior Brianna Rudolph, with the shot clock winding down, gave the home team a six-point lead with 30 seconds left, sealing the win.

Rudolph led the Spartans with a game-high 26 points, followed by senior Sharell Sanders who had 16, while senior Jennie Mucciarone added nine.

“I know [Rudolph] had 26 points, but we were more concerned with [Mucciarone] coming in and they both are outstanding players. Their point guard is very good too,” Medfield coach Mark Nickerson said.

Medfield was led by junior forward Payton Ouimette who also posted 26 points, while senior forward Kristin Fechtelkotter and senior guard Lauren Petit added 14 and 13 points respectively.

Even though the Warriors suffered their first loss in just about a year, it is a game they can learn from and potentially turn into a positive come tournament time.

“It’s good experience for us because we need to compete with teams like this, but I was proud of the way we battled back in the fourth quarter and made a game of it,” Nickerson said. “To their credit, very well coached and very well prepared.”

St. Mary’s will now look to wrap up the league crown with a win over Austin Prep later this week.

Playing short-handed: St. Mary’s was forced to only play seven players and dress only eight because of an injury to sophomore forward Gianna Moschella, but the Spartans showed no signs of being a tired team, especially with three senior guards playing the entire game.

“We didn’t go very deep tonight,” Newhall said. “You have three senior guards (Sanders, Rudolph and Mucciarone) and they have a history of winning. You use your timeouts sparingly and in a game like this they want to be on the floor and we need them on the floor. Quite frankly there is no reason for me to take them out.”

St. Mary's Sanders commits to Caldwell College

July, 24, 2013
St. Mary's of Lynn senior guard Sharell Sanders has verbally committed to Division 2 Caldwell College (N.J.) for the 2014-15 season, the school announced today.

She is the second Spartan to make a commitment this offseason, joining her backcourt-mate Briana Rudolph, who pledged to UMass-Lowell in back in May.

Sanders, a 5-foot-1 Lynn resident, averaged 12 points and eight assists last season for the Spartans, and is the school's seventh all-time leading scorer. Her former teammate from the Spartans' 2011 MIAA Division 3 state champion squad, center Tori Faieta, is No. 1 all-time.

Below is the official release, courtesy of Paul Halloran:

It has been a very good off-season for guards on the St. Mary's High School girls basketball team.

Sharell Sanders, the starting point guard for the Spartans, has given a verbal commitment to Caldwell College, an NCAA Div. 2 school in New Jersey, where she will receive a full scholarship.

Her backcourt mate Brianna Rudolph has verbally committed to UMass Lowell, becoming that program's first recruit since moving to Div. 1 earlier this year.

“Playing college basketball has always been something I've wanted to do," Sanders said. "Some people told me that being a scholarship player was not a possibility because of my size, which motivated me. I guess they were wrong."

St. Mary's Coach Jeff Newhall is thrilled to see Sanders get this opportunity.

"We are extremely excited to have a second full scholarship basketball player in our senior class," said Newhall. “Sharell has developed into one of the top point guards in the state.”

Sanders, who is only 5-1, averages 12 points and eight assists per game and is seventh on the all-time scoring list at St. Mary's with 604 career points (Tori Faieta is No. 1 with 1,471). Last year, she was a Catholic Central League All-Star and earned MVP honors in the Walter Boverini Tournament in Lynn and the Hoophall Classic in Springfield.

Sanders enrolled at St. Mary's after moving to Lynn from Malden in 2010. She made the varsity as a freshman, but struggled at times and was placed on the JV team at one point. She rebounded and not only made it back to the varsity, but also played a key role on St. Mary's 2011 MIAA Div. 3 state championship team, scoring 11 points in a 1-point win over nemesis Pentucket in the North semifinals. An honor roll student, she has started the last 48 games at point guard for the Spartans.

"Sharell plays the game as hard as anyone I have coached," Newhall said. "While her lack of size may be a factor at times, she makes up for in speed, heart, work ethic and determination."

Sanders, who will become the second Lynn product to play for Coach Linda Cimino at Caldwell in the last five years -- Lynn English graduate Jeannette Anderson is a senior this year -- said she is pleased to be through with the college-selection process.

"I am really excited to be going to Caldwell and relieved that the process is over so I can focus on my senior year at St. Mary’s," said Sanders, who lives in Chelsea with her mother, Nakia. "I have had a great experience at St. Mary’s and am very thankful for everything the school and the basketball program have done for me.”

Newhall credited former Malden High Coach Joe Levine, his wife, Helen, and daughter Dorothy for supporting Sanders while she was a student in Malden and continuing during her time at St. Mary's. Sanders has also flourished playing for Jim Ridley and Marvin Avery in the Mass. Thundercats AAU program.

Newhall indicated there may be more good news on the horizon as senior Jennie Mucciarone is close to finalizing her college plans. "We are pretty optimistic that Jennie will be getting some great news soon as well," he said, noting that there are currently three St. Mary's grads playing Div. 2 college basketball and receiving scholarships: Tori Faieta at Stonehill, Ann Marie Idusuyi at Assumption and Cassi Amenta at Merrimack, where she is on a full academic scholarship.

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

January, 13, 2013
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.”

Recap: No. 7 St. Mary's 38, No. 9 Lynn English 30

December, 28, 2012
LYNN, Mass. -– Two of the best girls basketball teams in the state faced off Saturday night in the championship game of the ninth Annual Walter Boverini Basketball Tournament, as No. 7 St. Mary’s of Lynn (6-0) was able to hold off host No. 9 Lynn English (3-2) for a 38-30 win.

It was not the typical game between the two, as there were numerous turnovers and the teams shot very poorly from the floor, but the defensive intensity showed by both teams treated fans to an intense, back-and-forth-game.

“It definitely wasn’t a work of art,” said St. Mary’s head coach Jeff Newhall. “It was two good teams and I thought our defense was outstanding. I think they played real hard too, as their defense definitely disrupted what we wanted to do. I think these are two of the better teams in the state and we knew it wasn’t going to be a high scoring game. We missed a lot of easy shots, but we hung in there.”

Entering the fourth quarter with a slim 21-19 lead, St. Mary’s junior guard Sharell Sanders took the game over scoring 10 of her 11 points in the fourth quarter enabling the Spartans to pull away and hold on for their sixth win of the year.

Even more impressive for Sanders was the defense she played on Bulldogs' superstar Catherine Stinson, limiting her to just three points in the game. For her efforts, Sanders took home tournament MVP honors.

“Sherrell (Sanders) was terrific all game,” Newhall said. “She ran the point very well, but to do what she did to Catherine Stinson, arguably the best player in the Northeastern Conference, was unbelievable.”

English cut the deficit to four at 32-28 with just over a minute remaining, but Spartans junior Brianna Rudolph’s layup and a foul with 47 seconds remaining, followed by a monster fist pump from Newhall, sealed the win.

Newhall credited his team's conditioning to be able to pull from the Bulldogs in the final quarter.

“We talked about before the game how we wanted to put on a full court pressure, not necessarily to steal the ball, but to wear them down,” he said. “We work hard and we pride our self in being in shape and I thought down the stretch [Lynn English] showed some signs of wear. They turned the ball over a couple more times than we did.”

Both teams struggled in the opening quarter, combining for just 11 points and Lynn English leading 6-5, but both teams eventually settled in.

This wasn’t the first time St. Mary’s has struggled early in a game this season –- nerves possibly playing a factor.

“Maybe,” Newhall said. “We played Arlington Catholic last Friday and the same thing happened, but once we settled in we were OK. I think when the ball won’t go in mentally it is an obstacle. Jennie (Mucciarone) hit the three towards the end of the first quarter and everyone was like ‘finally’.”

Rudolph led the way with 12 points, followed by Sanders and Mucciarone with 11. Nine of Mucciarone’s 11 points came from behind the arc.

The Bulldogs were led by senior Dolores Latimer who finished with 13 points.

With two big wins over Arlington Catholic and Lynn English so far this season and defensive efforts leading the charge, it is apparent defense will be what makes the Spartans go this season.

“We held Arlington Catholic last week to 42 points and then Lynn English to 30 tonight, so if you are holding some of the top teams in the state to those point totals, and you can make a couple of shots, you’re going to be in a good spot to win,” Newhall said.

He continued, “There is a long way to go. We had a great season two years ago, but last year was a struggle. We have already done some things this year that we weren’t able to do last year. The year before I think we won six titles, including tournaments and championships, and last year we got shut out. Being in our first championship game this year and winning it is gratifying, and to get this trophy back is significant to us. It is three out of four years (winning the Boverini tournament) and [Lynn English is] definitely a rival of ours. It was a great night for us.”

The tournament has a special place in Newhall’s heart, as the man the tournament is named for, Walter Boverini, is his wife’s uncle.

Boverini was the state senate majority leader, as well as a teacher, administrator and football coach in the city of Lynn. He was a graduate of Lynn Classical and Boston College.

“It has a special meaning to me for me. First of all any tournament featuring all the Lynn schools is great, but it is always intense and there are bigger crowds,” Newhall said. “Secondly, Walter Boverini is my wife’s uncle so I have a personal connection and he was a very good friend of mine. To be able to compete in Lynn in honor of someone who you’re real close to is significant.”

In addition to Sanders winning MVP honors, fellow Spartan senior Emily Morris was named to the all-tournament team. Joining them on the team were Lynn English’s Latimer, Lynn Classical’s Chelsea Rogers and Lynn Tech’s Zulmary Gonzalez.

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

January, 9, 2012

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.”