Bulldogs hope youth can lead the way

MANCHESTER — One look at the Burr and Burton girls basketball team's roster shows its youth.

Having only two seniors and six sophomores and freshmen may leave some thinking the best years are coming for the Bulldogs, but according to coach Erin Mears, the team could make headway this season.

"I think we're going to be a lot more balanced and have more offensive threats this season," said Mears, in her second season as the Bulldogs' leader. "With the majority of our team as sophomores and freshmen, we've talked a lot about mental toughness. There's going to be some ups and downs."

There are six returners from a season ago, led by senior Emily Bleakie. Bleakie was the team's top scorer last season, averaging better than 11 points per game. Bleakie is one of three captains for Mears — the others being fellow senior Margo Grapshi and junior Cassie Pearce.

"Emily is our leader on the floor, someone who can lead on the court and we've already seen it [in the first two games]," Mears said. "Margo leads by her hard work. She's the first one in every drill, leading by example. And Cassie has a strong desire to get better every day and she's improved a lot from last year. She's bridging the gap between the upperclassmen and underclassmen."

A sophomore heading into her second year on the varsity is Ashley Heaton. Heaton played in 19 of the team's 20 games last season and Mears said she thinks Heaton can make the leap to the next level.

"She's had a slow start, but she's working on leading the team from the point guard spot," Mears said. "I've been impressed with her growth so far."

A couple of new players to the varsity are freshmen Carol Herbert and Madelyn Goebel. In the team's first two games, Herbert is averaging 12.5 points per game.

"Carol played for Lone Wolf during the spring in AAU, so she's faced good competition," Mears said. "It makes that transition [to varsity] easier."

Goebel has worked her way into the rotation of starters, and she's been a big part of the process so far. Defensively, Rebecca Montaufray and Goebel are two of the stronger defenders for the Bulldogs.

"They cause a lot of turnovers getting into the passing lanes and Madelyn's basketball IQ is very high," Mears said.

After a 4-16 season a year ago, Mears said a realistic goal for the Bulldogs is to make the Division I playoffs. Burr and Burton has a school rule that requires teams to win at least 25 percent of their games to participate in the postseason. For the basketball team, that's five victories.

"Our schedule in December is very difficult," said Mears, referencing games against D-II champions Lyndon and CVU during the month. "Hopefully playing a tough schedule early will get us ready for the rest of the season. We just want to get better day to day, quarter to quarter."

Roster: Emily Bleakie, Madelyn Goebel, Sydney Goldfarb, Margo Grapshi, Ashley Heaton, Madison Heaton, Carol Herbert, Brianna Mayne, Rebecca Montaufray, Cassie Pearce, Grace Sherwood, Jordan Smith.


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