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Girls' basketball preview: Plenty of local flavor in Division II

December 5, 2012

St. Raphael head coach Fred Saunders.

To undertake a rebuilding job, one must have a firm understanding that change does not take place over night. The challenge of planting the seeds of encouragement and belief that things will get better with time is the main subplot at Woonsocket High, where a new head coach inherits practically a new team.
The new leader of the Lady Villa Novans is Doug Frisoli, who walked into a situation where “hitting the reset button” is the operate term. Previous coach George Coderre opted to step down following a bench stint that saw him guide Woonsocket to the Division II title in 2009 and the D-I crown the following season. Coderre’s departure also coincided with the graduations of several key players, among them Gatorade Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year Kailey Fugere.
Frisoli’s résumé includes roughly 15 years of coaching experience with his most recent head coaching stop at Codman Academy, located in Dorchester, Mass. What also brings him to Woonsocket is a desire to coach someplace closer to his North Attleboro address after he and his family moved to the town a few years ago.
As he starts to figure out how to get the Villa Novans up and running, Frisoli will do so with the assistance of program holdovers Amanda Sloan, Kayla Mousseau, Andrea Moyen, Paige Houle, Amanda Alexion and Shade Olowookere.
Frisoli understands that he has his work cut out for him, yet he’s just as optimistic about restoring the Villa Novans into a perennial contender, a status that was achieved under his predecessor.
“I’ve had one week with the girls and there’s a lot of young speed and athleticism that I’m really excited about,” said Frisoli. “They don’t have the natural basketball instincts yet, but they’re hard workers and show up every day. Because of our situation, they’re going to get thrown into the fire, and I think that experience is going to make them better in the future.”
Below is a look at the rest of the area:

Division I
The nightmare that was last season’s 0-18 campaign for Cumberland is behind head coach Deb Engels’ crew, the hope that those tough lessons accrued result in more on-court success and a subsequent playoff berth. Engles appointed seniors Bridget Connors, Bridget Hollenbeck, Sam Bertherman and Caylin Legare as captains while the coach’s daughter, junior point guard Kaitlyn Engels, should have an increased role.
Woonsocket and Cumberland are part of the I-North subdivision that includes two-time state champ La Salle, Ponaganset and Smithfield.

Division II
The task of replacing Danai Porter’s point production at Tolman figures to fall on Jazmine Almeida, but the senior’s status is murky after suffering a left ACL injury during soccer season. Head coach Tammy Drape believes that senior guard Brittany Bilodeau can help shoulder some of the burden with senior center Ariana Wood also contributing. Shelby Hofknecht and Jordyn Klemanchuck are two additional seniors while Drape hopes that several promising youngsters can emerge as the season progresses.
St. Raphael joins the Division II ranks this season with senior Lauren Gaj – a third team Division I-North pick in 2011-12 – joining forces with key returnees Rybecca Gonzalez and Kelsey Lynch.
East Providence and Lincoln also dropped down from Division I. Senior low-post threat Taylor Wiggins returning for her senior year for the Townies, while the Lions look to replace the production lost by Jenna Desautel.
Burrillville was a pleasant surprise a season ago after compiling a 10-8 record. Head coach Lindsay Rachlow returns all-division selection Victoria Libby as well as the Dumais sisters, Betsy and Danielle. Mount St. Charles will feature a new coach this winter as Jessica Shiel takes over for Nina Morey. At Central Falls, the Warriors look to forward after first team all-division pick Anjelique Cooley graduated.
In II-East you have Central Falls, East Providence, Mount Hope, Rogers, Tiverton and Tolman. The members of II-Central include Classical, Moses Brown, Mount Pleasant, Pilgrim, St. Raphael and Warwick Vets. In II-North, there’s Lincoln, Burrillville, Johnston, Lincoln, Mount St. Charles, North Providence and Scituate.

Division III
At Davies Tech, second-year mentor Joe Handy has his contingent on the verge of making serious noise as the Patriots came out of nowhere to post a 10-8 league mark last season. Seniors Kaitlin Flynn and Rosaliz Torres along junior Waleska Kelly are Patriots’ go-to players while junior Jackeline Sequen slides into the starting lineup. As a pleasant side note, the numbers at Davies were high enough to incorporate a junior varsity program, which Handy believes is the first time that’s happened in a number of years.
North Smithfield is another team to watch as the Northmen will be headlined by senior Keila Strick, who copped first team all division honors as a junior. Sophomore playmaker Ashley Correa will guide Bishop Keough while Shea hopes to build off last season’s 9-9 finish.
Unlike the higher divisions, Division III features no subdivisions. Members include Bishop Keough, Block Island, Central, Davies Tech, Hope, Juanita Sanchez, Middletown, North Smithfield, Rocky Hill, St. Patrick’s and Shea.

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