With a team that had no seniors and only four juniors among its 15 members, the Plymouth State College women's basketball team completed a transition year in 1997-98.
The new-look Panthers experienced some highs and some lows during the ‘97-98 campaign. From winning the M.I.T. Tip-Off Tournament at the beginning of the season to getting eliminated from the Little East Conference Tournament at the end, third-year coach Marti Kingsley was able to put a competitive team on the floor. PSC flirted with the .500 mark most of the season, and finished at 11-13 overall and a sixth place in the LEC at 4-10.
While all of the players could return to next year's team, the Panthers will no doubt have a different look without Coach Kingsley, who announced her resignation at the conclusion of the season.
"I'm very pleased with the progress of the young players," said Kingsley, who led PSC to a 37-38 record in her three seasons. "I feel the new coach will have a strong nucleus to build on, and Plymouth State is only a game or two away from being a solid post-season contender."
While depth was an asset on the 1997-98 Panthers, with 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes a game, the team was led by junior center Becky Morse (Sterling, MA) and sophomore guard Courtney Jacques (Belmont, NH). Morse was a solid inside force, averaging 11.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and earning honorable mention on the All-LEC Team. She scored a career high 33 points at Rivier College, and posted double-doubles in points and rebounds seven times. Jacques excelled after making the move to point guard, averaging 9.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. She also shot 72 percent from the free throw line, and was one of PSC's top defenders, averaging two steals a contest.
"Morse is a solid post player, one that other teams have to contend with," said Kingsley. "If she can develop more consistency and stay injury free, she has a chance to be one of the really good ones. Courtney Jacques had an outstanding season. I thought she improved a lot and became one of the better players in the LEC."
PSC had two top-notch freshmen on the team in Krystyna Zagorski (Cliffwood, NJ) and Kate Fillion (Littleton, NH). Zagorski used her excellent quickness and ability to average 6.6 points and 6.0 rebounds in what was a solid rookie campaign. She was one of the top first-year players in the league, receiving LEC Rookie of the Week honors three times. Fillion was the team's top threat from three-point range, as she connected on 37-of-104 from beyond the arc. She was also a top defensive player, making 12 blocks and 26 steals.
Joining Morse and Zagorski along the front line for PSC was sophomore Jessica Shapiro (Windsor Locks, CT). Perhaps the team's best rebounder, Shapiro hauled in 7.2 boards a game while contributing 6.9 points. Junior Shelby Fontaine (Eliot, ME) also started the last 21 games, chipping in 4.5 points and 2.3 rebounds.
Three guards who all saw playing time in the Panther backcourt are junior Brenna Matarazzo (Salem, NH) and sophomores Lynn Hersey (Dexter, ME) and Jackie Blanchard (Plymouth, MA). Matarazzo, a three-year veteran who can play either guard position, hit 21-of-60 from three-point range (35 percent), while Hersey, who started 13 of the 24 games, drained 26-of-102 three-point attempts. Blanchard moved into the line-up after earning All-New England honors in soccer, and contributed 4.5 points a game, including 23-of-69 (.333) from beyond the arc.
Junior Leslie Adams (Richmont, VT), the team captain, saw limited playing time after coming back from a season ending knee injury that ended her sophomore year. She showed signs of returning to the form that was averaging nearly eight points and eight rebounds a game. Freshman Amy Osterhaudt (Salem, NY) gained valuable playing time as a first-year, getting 10.7 minutes a game and averaging 2.8 points.
Rounding out the roster were four reserves - sophomore forward Melissa Burgess (West Hartford, CT), freshman forward Mandy Green (Sanbornton, NH) and freshmen guards Laura LaVallee (Lincoln, ME) and Tracy Bronson (Landaff, NH).
-- 30 --