Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
Oxford – The Oxford Pirates girls basketball team may be a little short handed in the early season, but the players they are putting on the court are certainly holding their own.
Coming off a 6-14 season and the loss of their captain and leading scorer Lauren Puishys, the Pirates may be in a rebuilding phase, but you would never know it seeing the way they practice and the way they have started their season.
The Pirates lost their opener to Southbridge but bounced back with an impressive 58-29 win over David Prouty. What was even more impressive were some of the individual performances.
Senior co-captain 6’1” center Caroline Bercier has been immense. With back-to-back games of blocking over 10 shots, she has become a real defensive force inside for the Pirates.
Fellow seniors Abbey Kyei, Anissa White and Blair Reilly all can score and give the team excellent veteran leadership.
Then (seen above) there is the young backcourt of sophomores Callie Andrews and Evelyn Marquis, both tremendous athletes who have given the Pirates some excellent early season scoring.
Still, Head Coach Janet Hourihan feels the team is not at full strength and will be a lot better when they are. “Right now we are really short on numbers with some injury issues and some illness problems so our goal is to get back to a full squad.”
“Even though we have five seniors, it’s actually a very young team because only one of them (Bercier) played a lot of varsity minutes last year,” said Hourihan. “I feel like we have a really inexperienced squad even though on paper we are not that young. We have one junior and the rest of our squad are all sophomores so our goal is to improve every day and keep a positive attitude, and they are doing that.”
(Pictured above) Senior co-captain shooting guard Blair Reilly, who has been nursing an injured ankle, said “I think we have a pretty fast team this year and we also we have some height so I think we could have a good year.”
Reilly also praised the team’s young guards. “Callie and Evelyn are both really good and are assets to the team.”
“Marquis gives us a spark off the bench with her offense, which is very helpful,” said Hourihan. “There is certainly no loss when she is in the game. She brings a lot of athleticism.”
The extremely likable Andrews, who has earned a starting nod at guard said, “This year we have a lot of shoes to fill and with the younger players coming up from jayvees to varsity it’s a big change. I feel like we have to work on things but I think we can be good.”
“I think a lot of teams are going to underestimate us this year,” said Marquis. “We do have a small team but we are very fast this year. Teams are going to be surprised because we can really push the ball up the court.”
The Pirates have a big game tonight Wednesday (Dec. 20) against rival Bartlett and it’s one they are all looking forward to.
“They are kind of similar to us in that they have also lost a lot of really good players in the last few years and he (Chris Delvecchio) is rebuilding,” said Hourihan. “He’s a good coach; he does a really good job with what he has. They have some kids that can play but they are a lot like us. They are probably going to be a work in progress and they will get better as the season goes.”
“It’s always fun to play Bartlett because we match up really good with them and it’s always a hard game but it’s a lot of fun,” said Bercier.
“I like playing Bartlett cause I went to middle school in Webster and I usually know some of the girls on the team so it’s always fun to play with them,” said Reilly.
Marquis was a little more direct, “If they can’t run, then they are going to be beat.”