Besides traveling around to games, my favorite part of the winter season is spending literally every free moment I have scrolling through Twitter to get updates on what is happening in the basketball world. There are a few new coaches on the scene and a couple of familiar faces coaching new programs that are finding early success this season. Through my Twitter exploration, I stumbled on some noteworthy items about the recent successes of these coaches and their programs.
Chantel Jordan is in her first season as Rivers’ head coach, and what a start! They kicked off the season with a road win against St. Andrew’s, then got two double-digit victories vs. Storm King and Hoosac in the “Storm King Tip-Off Showcase.” I am not surprised by the start considering Jordan was on the Rivers staff last winter, and they brought back the same starting 5, making this a very cohesive group. Dartmouth commit Nina Minicozzi has been leading the way, averaging almost 18ppg, and added the Storm King Tip-Off Showcase MVP award to her mantle. Colby College commit Ana von Rumohr is officially on the ’23 Club PYRAMID watch with her all-around play and consistency through the first 3 games. Jordan is also getting significant contributions from Rissi Smith, Grace O’Sullivan, and Payton Richard. Jordan is building something special at Rivers and is a team to keep tabs on this winter.
Austin Prep (2-0)
Austin Prep is off to a 2-0 start after wins against Penguin Hall and Portsmouth Abbey. The coach? Let me know if you recognize this name…Ushearnda Stroud. Yup, Coach U and her 2 NEPSAC championship rings are on the Austin Prep sidelines, and she is still winning. When was the last time Coach U lost in the wintertime? I am being dead serious. I plan to check out one of the squad’s games because I have to know what Coach U is cooking in Reading, MA. It looks like she is getting a good start from the class of ’27 members Tiffany Burns and Morgan Kotchian. I’ll be tuning in.
Marianpolis Prep (1-2)
Over the weekend, Wes Howard picked up his first coaching victory at Marianpolis Prep. A total team effort in a 50-44 win against Storm King led by Grace O’Gara (’23), who took home Showcase All-Tournament honors. She had an impressive stat line of 18 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals with shooting splits of 46%/38%/100%. I’ve covered O’Gara for a while now, and the numbers don’t surprise me. Even though I wasn’t present at the tournament, I know she led with her voice on the court. Newcomer Tamia Nunes (’23) reached double figures with 11 points and added 6 rebounds. Wesleyan commit Felicia Fongemie filled up the stat sheet with 14 points, 5 assists, and 7 rebounds. Class of ’24 wing Alanna Phillipo cleaned up the glass with 9 rebounds. When I saw how hard Marianpolis competed against NEPSAC juggernaut Nobles in the season opener, I knew they would be a team you can’t take lightly.
Bushe Academy ( 2-1)
Isiah Anderson has taken over the coaching duties at Busche Academy and has them off to a 2-1 start. There is a lot of talent on this roster. Merit Innocent (’23) is a strong post who I got to see a lot of last year when she and Anderson were at Hoosac. Sharpshooting ’23 G Maddie Haggett turned heads at the Storm King Tip-Off Showcase as she made the All-Tournament Team (21 points vs. Storm King on Sunday). In Busche Academy’s Friday night win against Hoosac, Yaribel Peña scored 14 points. I haven’t seen this group yet, but they are off to a good start and have some intriguing prospects.
Julie McBride has taken over the Hoosac sidelines, and I loved reading that the team secured their first victory Sunday (50-45 vs. Marianapolis). I have always liked the talent on the roster, and it was nice to see one of NEPSAC’s most dangerous flamethrowers, ’23 G Marija Marinkovic, recieve All-Tournament Team honors at the Storm King Tip-Off Showcase. They have good-sized and skilled forwards in ’23 Alina Abdulina and ’24 Brooklyn SanFelippo. SanFelippo is someone to keep an eye on. I first was her play last winter when she was with Staten Island Academy, and I loved her block-to-block work. I also have always been a fan of guards Maylina Santiago and Lily Czub. I am unfamiliar with a couple of names on the roster, but I’ll see them at the Nickerson in a couple of weeks to get the full scoop.