FITCHBURG — The North Central Blaze 10th/11th grade AAU girls’ basketball team recently capped off its spring season at the Division 2 U.S. Junior National New England Summerfest Tournament in Danvers.
The Blaze pride themselves on being one of the most affordable programs in the region that select players from throughout the Nashoba Valley and the Central Massachusetts region.
The team advanced to the semifinal,where it lost by one point.
“These showcase events are not like your typical tournament bracket,” said 10th-11th grade head coach Mike Davidson.
You go there and play your game and let college coaches watch you play. This was one of those tournaments where we really put our focus on winning.”
Davidson, who is also the head girls’ basketball coach at Bromfield, says that the Blaze have a different goal when assembling its teams.
“We were a .500 team this spring going into the tournament.” said Davidson. “It is kind of intentionally done that way because our focus is primarily put on getting these players to be better basketball players. We are trying to get them to understand the game better and improve their skill development. Our goal is to try and make them all-around better basketball players by teaching them new things that they can carry over to their high school programs and beyond.”
Davidson’s 10th and 11th grade team is comprised of 10 players.
The Blaze are primarily local with 80 percent of its players coming from Central Mass. towns, in addition to two from New Hampshire.
Groton-Dunstable’s Chloe McDonald and Jordan Wynn are joined by North Middlesex sophomore Hadley Beauregard, who is already garnering some interest from Division 1 schools, according to Davidson.
“Coaches who have watched us play are very impressed with her game,” said Davidson. “She has D-1 potential. I have been tapped on the shoulder by college coaches, who tell me that they are going to put her on their watch-list. It’s pretty rare for the D-1 colleges to recruit Central Mass.”
Wynn is a work in progress, according to Davidson, who has seen some enhanced development in her overall game.
“Jordan is a power forward in a guard’s body,” said Davidson. “She can help herself get recruited once she develops an outside shot. She is working hard at doing that and once she does it, she will be a legitimate D-3 prospect.”
Other locals include Hannah LoChiatto (Bromfield), Mary Sabatelle and Katherine Belanger, of the Groton School.
But for the Blaze, it all starts at the lower levels with quality coaching.
The Blaze AAU youth program is made up of fourth grade (two), fifth grade (two), sixth (two), seventh (two) and three eighth grade teams.
Ayer Shirley girls’ basketball head coach Peter Page is at the helm of the eighth grade team.
“Pete has a strong passion for the game of basketball,” said Davidson. “And it starts at the younger levels.”
Another team that has a local head coach is the ninth grade girls’ team, who is led by Townsend native Mike Wilmot.
“They are a strong team year to year,” said Davidson. “They’re a very diversified team that draws players from seven different towns. That’s the true nature of AAU basketball — it’s about developing kids and bringing them all together.”
The Blaze also feature a pair of local coaches in John Megan (Ayer) and Peter Pray (Groton).