After down seasons, Lynnfield girls basketball continues to build

Lynnfield's Tori Morelli drives toward the basket during practice earlier this week. (Item Photo by Anne Marie Tobin)

LYNNFIELD — The tryout turnout may have been on the low side, but that has done nothing to detract from the Lynnfield girls basketball team’s determination to make this year a good one.

Things have not gone the Pioneers’ way the last three seasons with only five victories under their belts.

Sadly, following the end of last season, the team lost head coach Jim Perry, who suffered a fatal heart attack in April.

Enter Perry’s assistant and longtime friend, Peter Bocchino, attempting to continue what Perry began.

“That’s what it’s all about, continuing what we started three years ago,” Bocchino said. “We have the girls to do that. I don’t want to push my luck, but this is a team that can compete. They are all open to learning and they have great attitudes. I think our top-seven are the strongest we have had since I’ve been here, but I only wish Jim was around to see it.”

Only 14 players tried out for the team, which is extremely young with no seniors and only two juniors. Leading the way are tri-captains Tori Morelli, Melissa Morelli, both juniors, and Grace Klonsky, a sophomore.

Another returning starter is sophomore Caroline Waisnor.

Sophomore Ava Buonfiglio also returns. She was brought up to the varsity from the junior varsity last year. Freshmen Cate MacDonald and Riley Hallahan round out the top-seven.

“Cate can play every position, has all the tools for the game and is probably the hardest worker at practice,” Bucchino said. “Riley is a transfer from East Boston and will be a solid addition. She can shoot and penetrate and plays year-round basketball, so I think she will play a solid role for us.”

In addition to the core group of seven players, Bocchino will carry four promising freshmen who will see time on both the varsity and junior varsity squads. That group includes Abby Adamo, Lucy Cleary, Anna Radulski and Catherine Ciolfi.

“They will play JV and depending on what we need, will also see time on the varsity,” Bocchino said. “It’s a long season and we have some kids who are injury prone, so I expect they will swing back and forth. They will need to be ready when their number is called.”

Bocchino said he is working toward getting a middle school waiver to fill out the junior varsity roster.

As far as the rest of the league goes, Bocchino said, while he doesn’t know what the Cape Ann League brings, he expects Masconomet and Pentucket to be the teams to beat.

“I know Masco is always good and Pentucket is good every year, so they are always tough, but we might be able to pound out a few wins against some of the other teams,” Bocchino said. “We are fortunate that we have seven girls who are interchangeable with three of them able to play the point. The good thing is we are deep from top to bottom, so when I do have to go to the bench there won’t be nosedive in terms of the talent level.”

The Pioneers open the season Saturday at home against Notre Dame Cristo Rey (1).

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