Last season, Old Colony girls basketball did something that hasn’t happened often throughout Craig Lincoln’s tenure as the Cougars’ head coach. They did not qualify for the MIAA state tournament. Not only do the Cougars typically make the playoffs, they’re usually in contention for the league title.
Now Old Colony did not win this season’s Mayflower Athletic Conference Small Vocational Division title either, but the Cougars were able to finish second in the conference with a 7-2 record. More importantly, they’re playing in the state Vocational and MIAA state tournaments.
Setting the program back on the right footing was a major goal for Old Colony this year. There was a conversation about how the team underachieved in the 2018-19 season, but becoming the redemption team is no small feat. When the Cougars achieved their major preseason goal, it would’ve been easy to take their foot off the gas and breathe a sigh of relief, but that’s not what this team is about.
“The girls played hard. The chemistry was excellent this year,” Lincoln said. “Having two young freshmen step in and play large roles for us from Day 1 was nice to see, and the upperclassmen helping them fit in and be part of it right away was pretty key, too.”
Upperclassmen setting the tone starts with senior Kat Kirby. Although Savanna Halle (11.4 points per game) and Hailey Hathaway (12.6) are the team’s top scorers, Kirby plays a crucial role in every win.
“She’s doing all the other things,” Lincoln said of Kirby. “She was the point guard coming into the year and we moved her to off-guard because of Olivia Perry coming in. (Kirby) leads the team in rebounds, steals, deflections, assists — she’s doing all the other things because she wanted to win so badly.
“Between having a small (in stature) team and the maximum effort that these girls put out, I think is a tribute to Kat and what she has done for that team on and off the court this year.”
As Kirby has set the tone, Halle, a junior, has followed suit, playing down low despite being undersized. Still, Halle’s biggest contributions come on the offensive end. Even though she didn’t enter the final game of the regular season as Old Colony’s leading scorer for 2019-20, she is the focus of opposing defenses. This has allowed for the emergence of a second scorer, one who could help the program over the next few years.
“Everyone focuses on Savanna and I think that’s largely why Hailey has been able to have as much success as she has this year. It’s because Savanna plays against a box-and-one (defense) every night,” Lincoln said. “Savanna faces every team’s top defender every night, which allows Hailey to get some more open looks here and there. So, they complement each other very nicely.
“It’s nice to see a freshman step in and be willing to take big shots and be a part of something. We don’t have to focus on running something for just Savanna or just Hailey. We run our offense and we look for the next-best option at all times, making the extra pass. It’s been fun to watch — it’s been fun to coach.”
Following their regular season finale on Tuesday, the Cougars begin the state Vocational tournament on Thursday. Once that concludes, Old Colony will look toward the MIAA South tournament. In both cases, the Cougars have no intention of being a one-and-done team.
“They’re working hard every day to become better than what they were last week,” Lincoln said.
Old Colony boys basketball had a dramatic ending to its season. The Cougars capped off a 17-4 campaign with an 80-76, double-overtime win over Upper Cape Tech on Monday.
Hunter Soares led the Cougars with 22 points. Jarrett Taylor (19 points) and Jojo Cortes (15) each finished in double figures as well.
Like the Old Colony girls basketball team, the boys have the state Vocational and MIAA tournaments up next on their schedule.
Old Rochester boys basketball clinched a playoff berth with its 62-54 win over Bourne on Friday. With the Bulldogs narrowly inching their way in, they will likely face one of the top-ranked opponents in the tournament on the road to open things up.
At 18-2, Old Rochester girls basketball will be one of the top-seeded teams in the MIAA Division 2 South sectional tournament. Home-court advantage should be the Bulldogs’ until they reach the neutral-site portion of the tournament.
High School Sports Update
By Nick Friar