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WINTHROP — Fresh off a trip to the Division 3 North semifinals last season, the Winthrop girls basketball team is ready to take the next step and become a force in the Northeastern Conference.
“We had a great season last year and we’re really just trying to build off that momentum,” said coach Joe Lowe, who is entering his second season at the helm. “Last year, we were a very talented team that was learning how to win. Now we know how to win, so the key is now playing every game like it’s a tournament atmosphere and expecting that we can win.
“Winthrop’s always been known as a hockey town, and we want to bring basketball back to the forefront here,” Lowe added.
The team that made a run to the semifinals last season is back in full force this year with six seniors leading the way. Maura Dorr, Caroline Earl and Lily Pulsifer are all returning Item All-Stars from last year. Other returning players include Madison Stiglets and Julia Marcoccio, while Jenna Dorr and Grace Galuris are both back in action after missing last season.
“We have basically everyone back, and it’s really been helpful that we’ve been able to pick right up where we left off,” said Lowe. “We’re hoping to run a 10-man rotation, and the fact that all of our girls have already been in the system is a big help.”
Lowe believes that his experienced group will also be able to make the adjustments necessary to become a legitimate contender in the NEC.
“I think last year we were a little too dependent on offensive sets to get points, so this year we want to be more of a read-and-react team,” said Lowe. “We want to be a team that plays great defense, puts pressure on teams and can score in transition.”
Winthrop got back on the court for practice last week, and the Vikings didn’t skip a beat.
“The girls were all here and in unbelievable shape on Day 1, and it was just practice from the jump,” said Lowe. “We’ve had some tough, physical practices already and the girls are looking great out there. The other aspect to things is figuring out all of the protocols and getting used to wearing our masks and things like that.”
The Vikings will need to be ready to play from the first game of the season, as this year’s 14-game schedule is made up entirely of tough NEC teams.
“The NEC is always tough every year, and a lot of teams are going to be massively improved,” said Lowe. “You’re talking about teams like Marblehead, Swampscott, Gloucester, now Masconomet is in. Going up against teams like that means we’re going to have to bring our best every night, and I think we’re going to be ready to do that.”