GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

March 14, 2013

Cape Ann Dream Team: Girls Basketball: Toughness is the name of the game on Cape Ann

By Conor Walsh
Correspondent

---- — In the grand scheme of things, this past season was a forgettable one for the girls basketball programs of Cape Ann.

Sure, the Gloucester girls made an impressive late-season surge to the Division 2 North tournament, and the Manchester Essex girls made another return to the D-4 tournament.

Even Rockport, a team that’s struggled mightily over the past several years, saw serious improvements after tweaking its schedule and limiting its affiliation with the Cape Ann League.

At the end of the day, though, neither Gloucester nor Manchester Essex won a tournament game, and the three teams finished the year with a combined 24-36 record.

But what if we could combine the three teams and make a Cape Ann Dream Team? Without a ton of size, this squad would likely struggle on the glass. With some of the talent around, though, they’d sure have enough to overcome that.

Here’s how things would look to us.

Starting Five

PG - Katie Ciaramitaro, Gloucester. The senior co-captain didn’t light up the stat sheet for the 10-11 Fishermen, finishing the season averaging just 4.5 points per game, the lowest average on this squad. Scoring’s not what makes Ciaramitaro so valuable, though. She was a downright tenacious defender throughout her time with the Fishermen, and there’s very little chance Gloucester would have made the tournament were it not for her ability to shut down opponents.

She also turned herself into a solid point guard on the offensive end as the season wore on, running the point with poise down the stretch and helping push the Fishermen to their season-ending four-game winning streak. And while her numbers weren’t eye popping, she proved plenty capable of scoring when her team needed it this season, both on the drive and with a mid-range jumper.

Ciaramitaro’s not flashy. She is, however, a winner, a gritty competitor that any team would want. For this team, she’s a no-brainer.

SG - Julianna Costanzo, Gloucester. Only a sophomore, Costanzo really came into her own this season for the Fishermen. While early in the season she appeared timid at times, her development on both ends of the floor was paramount to the Fishermen’s success.

Offensively, she trailed only Sophie Black for the area’s leading scorer, posting 11.4 points per game. When defenders played off of her, she found a way to get it to the rim, often creatively weaving her way to the baseline and hitting off-angle shots.

And if opponents dared her to shoot, she found a way to drop it and led the Fishermen in 3-pointers.

On a Gloucester team that prided itself on its defense, Costanzo was right in the thick of things. While players like Ciaramitaro aggressively defended opponents from start to finish, Costanzo was sneakier, lurking around in passing lanes and piling up steals. For a small “Dream Team,” turnovers will be key, and Costanzo’s well-rounded game would be huge.

SF - Heather MacArthur, Rockport. The junior captain was what kept everything together for a young Vikings squad this season, and her experience and leadership earn her a spot on this squad.

MacArthur led the resurgent Vikings in scoring this season, posting 8.2 points per game with a solid inside-out game, perfect for the wing on this Dream Team. Further than that, she’s been through the wringer over the years with Rockport, and the toughness that has no-doubt given her makes her an ideal candidate for a gritty squad.

She’s a tough leader with talent on both ends of the floor. No brainer.

PF - Evy Weihs, Manchester Essex. Weihs reminds us a lot of Ciaramitaro. She notched just 5.5 points per game before missing the end of her senior season with a broken leg, but she’s the ultimate heart-and-soul player.

A co-captain, Weihs did it all for the Hornets. Despite being undersized, she battled in the paint for a small Hornets squad, and her defensive tenacity and toughness on the glass were key for a squad struggling through a brutal CAL schedule.

And while the Hornets lived and died with the 3-pointer, Weihs’ mid-range game was one of the team’s steadying influences. They didn’t always look to her for scoring, but when they did, Weihs could be counted on.

You should be starting to notice a pattern of grittiness. It’s intentional. The three teams won with toughness this season, so why shouldn’t the Dream Team? And no one around was tougher than Weihs.

C - Sophie Black, Gloucester. This is kind of a stretch putting Black at center. She’s the ultimate power forward. But for a small team, putting her at the five gives us the best squad possible.

Black would be the centerpiece of this team, just as she was for the Fishermen. The senior co-captain was great this season, amassing an area-leading 13.8 points per game and dominating on the glass.

Black is tough, smart, defensively talented and offensively dominant. Feed her the ball and she’ll deliver.

Nothing much more to say. Welcome to the squad.

Off the Bench

Sydney Christopher, Manchester Essex. Christopher was only a freshman this year, but she was lethal from the perimeter. Our squad doesn’t have a ton of shooting ability, and Christopher’s 7.3 points per game and 29 3-pointers on the season are the perfect fit.

Eliza Logue, Manchester Essex. Logue’s a perfect role player for this team. Playing largely at the four during the season for the Hornets, the sophomore posted 5.1 points per game while chipping in solid rebounding and defense. She was the ultimate competitor for the Hornets and would fit right in on this squad.

Rachel Haselgard, Rockport. What Haselgard did this season as an eighth-grader is nothing short of remarkable, and she’s the perfect backup combo guard for this squad. With her 7.1 points per game thrown into the mix with Ciaramitaro, Costanzo and Christopher, this squad will have all it needs in the backcourt.