GROTON — The Groton-Dunstable girls basketball team is tired of being Avis and they have worked tirelessly until it Hertz.
The Lady Crusaders, who were runner-up to Millbury in Central Mass. Division 2 basketball the past two seasons will feature a strong cast, including returning starters Sandra Lanier, Mandy Woitowicz and Eva Mahan.
Lanier, a senior forward and captain, has a strong all-around game, including an accurate jump shot.
“Sandra is our purest shooter with good range and she pushes both herself and her teammates,” said seventh-year coach Mark Hennelly. “She is a very intelligent player and provides a lot of experience as a third-year starter. Her rebounding and drives to the basket are much improved.
“Mandy is our best defensive player and she will draw the opposition’s toughest player,” said Hennelly. “She works hard, is a great passer and has a point guard’s mentality. She is also a great rebounder and we want her to shoot more this season.
“Eva is an athletic center with a nice mid-range jumper,” said Hennelly. “She is more aggressive taking the ball to the basket and she is a very important part of our pressing defense.
Rounding out the starting line-up will be power forward Gillian Rooney, and guard Heather Moody, both juniors.
“Gillian is a forward who just continues to improve,” said Hennelly. “She has developed her post moves and is also a three-point threat. She is an outstanding rebounder and I’m expecting big things from her. Heather is athletic and fast and takes the ball to the basket strongly. She has dramatically improved the range of her shot, and defensively she is a perfect complement to Mandy in the backcourt.
A quartet of players added experience off the bench – junior guard Kasey Pelletier, junior forward Kat Falco, senior guard Jenny Moore, and senior forward Lauren Rooney.
“Kasey will be our back-up point guard and she is a fearless player who plays strong defense and has a variety of offensive skills,” said Hennelly. She is a great passer who sees the floor well and she does whatever is needed. Kat is injured right now but we are hoping she can return in early January. She made huge steps last season and she is a smart player who can pass, rebound and hit a mid-range shot. Jenny is a very aggressive defensive player who has become more willing to take the ball to the basket. Lauren was injured last season and she can be an offensive lift off the bench. She is a good rebounder and can hit outside shots.”
A trio of freshmen have impressed and are looking to create a niche – guard Carley LaMalva, forward Anna Towle, and forward Kayla Meijer.
“Carley has been impressive and has a big upside,” said Hennelly. “She can do a little bit of everything, is very coachable and isn’t intimidated. Anna has strong post moves and a good mid-range shot. She boxes out well and has a great upside. Kayla is strong, aggressive and determined to learn and improve. She is a strong rebounder who listens and learns.”
What are the team strengths this season?
“I really like our defensive intensity, our cohesiveness, and the well-rounded starting five we have,” said Hennelly. “The girls have high aspirations, spurred by confidence. They want to take one step further in both the league and the Districts, and I think that is a realistic goal. I love this group for the effort and coachability they bring.”