All last season, BFA-St. Albans girls’ basketball coach Shawn Earl preached to his players to trust the process his coaching staff was trying to implement during his first year at the helm and keep improving throughout the season and good things will happen.
Earl was right.
The Comets finished the regular season with a 9-11 record with tough stretches throughout the year, which set them up with the No. 10 seed in the Division I playoffs.
After getting through Colchester in the first round, the Comets upset a very good Rice team in the quarterfinals to keep their playoff run alive. That set up a semifinal game against Brattleboro, which they doubled up 52-26 to set up a championship game matchup against girls’ basketball juggernaut CVU, who has been to the finals six years straight and won the last four. Not to mention, the Redhawks haven’t lost a game since the 2012 finals.
The Comets came up on the short end of a 40-28 title game score, but it didn’t take away from a memorable postseason run for the program.
“There were quite a few ‘best’ moments for me last season,” said Earl, who is entering his second season as coach of the varsity team. “I would say the best for me was to see the kid’s hard work and perseverance pay off with our run to the finals. That was a testament to the spirit and character of that team.”
As good of a postseason run as last year was, Earl and the Comets know last year was last year and is focused on starting a new season and not thinking about the past.
The team is returning a strong core of seven players from last year’s team knowing they will have to continue to work hard and improve again throughout the season.
“It’s comforting as a coach knowing you have a core that knows the system and what the expectations are for this year,” said Earl. “But none of us, players or coaches, can be complacent and think that what happened last year will automatically happen again this year.”
Earl expects all seven players returning to have big roles for the team this year after the ups-and-downs of last year’s regular season and big postseason run.
Key returning players include guards Andi Esenler and Hannah Earl to go along with forward Kelly Laggis, who stepped up with a strong post presence last year.
“Everyone will have a major role in our success and they all bring something unique to the team,” said Earl. “Andi and Hannah are both entering their fourth seasons at the varsity level, so will look to them to lead this team on and off the court. We are also excited for the new additions to the team and the talent that they bring with them and the role they will play on our team.”
As of Thursday, the team had only had one practice, but Earl enters the season with the same philosophy as last season knowing the team has to improve each and every day in all aspects of the game.
However, there is one area in particular he mentioned he would like to see his team really improve in their game.
“One of our biggest focuses is free throws,” said Earl. “We have to do better from the line when we get those opportunities.”
It will be interesting to see how the team starts the season this year with the experience they built up after last season.
The Comets will have a few weeks before opening up the season with a home game against Missisquoi on Dec. 19.