Consistency is a valuable asset, especially in sports, and that attribute has been a trademark of the Medway High girls’ basketball team for a decade.
The Mustangs will be competing in the Sectional Tournament for the eighth time in the last nine seasons and for the eighth time in coach Joe Iannone’s 10-year tenure with the squad. The girls qualified for the playoffs after a 37-18 victory over Ashland early last month and at Local Town Pages deadline they were 12-6.
Last year, the Mustangs had an impressive playoff run, winning three straight contests before bowing to Hopkinton in the Division 2 Sectional final. Medway posted triumphs over Doherty High of Worcester, North Middlesex and Nashoba. This time around the opposition will be formidable once again with Nashoba, Groton-Dunstable, Medfield and Marlboro leading the parade.
“It should be a wide-open tourney,’’ Iannone said. “There are so many quality teams, but if we play our best, we’ve got an opportunity to go as far as last year.’’
The Mustangs’ overall team strengths might even help them to advance farther. They value an up-tempo style that’s solid in transition and focuses on a tenacious defense. When they qualified for the tourney by beating Ashland, they limited the Clockers to seven points at halftime. While Medway averages about 50 points a game, its defense often limits opponents to 40 or less.
“We’re a balanced team,’’ Iannone said. “We don’t have anyone averaging double figures on offense but everyone contributes. We’re athletic, versatile, have height and excellent team chemistry. Our forwards, for example, are quick, can score and rebound.’’
Medway’s senior co-captains — point guard Rachel Costello and power forward Samantha Murray — are key cogs in promoting team chemistry and being top-notch role models.
“They lead by example, communicate well and make other players better,’’ Iannone said. “Rachel is a calming influence, a good ball-handler who passes effectively and she’s improved her three-point shooting (33 percent). Averaging 5.5 points, she’s got terrific court awareness. Samantha is a good offensive rebounder who sets the tone for our intensity. Averaging 9 points and 7 rebounds, she’s always scrambling for a loose ball and her court presence is excellent.’’
Sophomore Lauren Beach is a 5-foot-11 quick forward who’s averaging 9 points and 7 rebounds. “Lauren is very coachable and keeps improving,’’ Iannone said. “She can score inside or outside, plays solid defense and can handle the ball.’’
Junior Julia Dowling plays off-guard and is averaging 7 points. “Julia’s offensive game is evolving,’’ Iannone said. “She’s averaging 30 percent on her three-pointers. She’s a strong shooter who gives a good effort on defense, getting her share of steals, deflections and turnovers.’’
Junior wing Emma D’Entremont rounds out the starting lineup. Iannone labels her an “unsung-hero’’ type. “Emma does a lot,’’ he emphasized. “She exhibits defensive assertiveness, she rebounds well and she can drive to the hoop. She does the little things that are very valuable.’’
Medway’s eight reserves are a combination of front-liners, point guards and wings who, as Iannone says, “all play and contribute.’’ The front line includes junior center Mary Kate Gould, and freshman forwards Maggie Regan and Amy Johnston. “They all provide depth, energy, rebounding and scoring,’’ Iannone said.
Two senior reserves are point guards Nikki Sheehan and Stephanie Messina. “Nikki exhibits great defensive tenacity,’’ Iannone noted. “Her ball-handling and ability to distribute the ball are very good. Stephanie is an incredible player who’s an excellent defender. She’s super quick on her feet, displays great leadership, works hard in practice and makes other players better.’’
A trio of junior wings — Brenna Lorenzen, Lizzy White, and Rory McCarthy — are a competitive group who draw praise from their coach for their work ethic, especially in practice. “They provide shooting, defensive tenacity, and depth,’’ Iannone said. “Our practices are so competitive because of their hard work.’’
Relying on an athletic philosophy that focuses on reaching one’s potential, the 51-year-old Iannone also values a competitive style that produces victory and is built on hard work. A firm believer that his players must have fun and enjoy their athletic journey, Iannone also emphasizes that basketball can teach valuable life lessons.
“Our players know that dedication will improve their skills but they also learn great lessons like overcoming adversity, becoming leaders, accepting responsibility and developing compassion for teammates who might be struggling.’’
Medway has been a fixture in tourney play for the last decade. Last year, the Mustangs won three Sectional battles and were one game away from a State tourney appearance. They can duplicate that success and possibly go deeper because they’ve got the assets to make that happen.
But, as their coach says: “We’ll need some extraordinary defense to advance.’’