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January 29, 2013

Rockport settling in to independent schedule just fine

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this girls basketball season on Cape Ann it’s that Rockport can compete just fine playing against teams its size.

The Vikings (5-7) smartly ditched a full Cape Ann League schedule this season in favor of an independent schedule where they play primarily Division 4 teams. Last season Rockport played half of its games against CAL opponents and the other half against fellow Division 4 schools.

The rigors of the Cape Ann League were tough on the Vikings over the years as is evident in their 6-66 record over the last four seasons playing in the CAL. Rockport is one of the three smallest schools in the Cape Ann League, a league comprised of primarily Division 2 and Division 3 schools. The Vikings played only four games against Division 4 teams, two tilts with CAL rivals Manchester Essex and Georgetown, and struggled with larger schools with deeper talent pools and larger participation numbers.

Last season Rockport went to a hybrid schedule and saw its win total increase, this year it went all the way with a full independent schedule with hopes of competing night in and night out against several Division 4 state tournament teams.

“I just think we can compete much better with this schedule,” head coach Steve O’Connor said in the preseason. “We tried it last year and we were in every game even though we had five wins.”

O’Connor was dead on with his assessment.

At 5-7, Rockport is in the thick of the Division 4 state tournament race needing to finish its final six games with a 4-2 record to qualify. This season Rockport has played a who’s who of the best Division 4 has to offer with games against Greater Lowell, Mt. Alvernia, Lynn Tech and of course Manchester Essex and Georgetown.

Not once have the Vikings been outclassed on the floor this season and if they do get into the postseason, they know exactly what’s to come.

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