By BOB YORK –
During his annual wrap-up of the season, Darnel Barnes was able to utter those two magical words that every coach loves to say but dreads to hear: “Everybody’s back!”
Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to quit while he was ahead. There’s always another pressing question a head coach must answer about his team once the curtain has dropped on the season, that being its final record. And in tallying up the wins and losses from the past winter’s campaign, the Big Green girls basketball coach concluded the count in three words that every coach dreads to say but loves to hear: “five and seventeen.”
Expounding on the good news first, Barnes will have plenty of familiar faces for at least one more go-around next winter, as this year’s roster had an overload of underclassmen. And despite the record, Deerfield handed out its share of hoop halos.
Libby Murray (’14), who at 5-10, served time at both power forward and small forward, earned a berth on the Western New England Girls Basketball League All-Star team for the third consecutive year. She made the grade by leading the team in rebounds, averaging nearly seven a game. For the first time in three years, however, Murray didn’t finish atop the team’s scoring charts. This season, she averaged nearly eight points per game, dropping to second on the list behind Becca Harrington (’14). Harrington, a versatile piece in Barnes’s backcourt, played both shooting guard and point guard and was named winner of the team’s Keller-Birrell Award. She poured in an average of nearly a dozen points a game, while she also averaged two rebounds, two assists and three steals a game.
Joining Murray up front were a pair of 6-0 juniors in Kate Ginna and Caroline Ashford. Ginna averaged nearly six points and six rebounds a game, as well as a pair of steals every time she suited up. Ashford, meanwhile, averaged four points and five rebounds per night. Caroline Coppinger (’15) proved to be one of the team’s top defensive specialists, as she would lock onto the opponent’s top-shooting guard and make her life miserable. She averaged about two steals a game and also chipped in a pair of rebounds per night.
Another key contributor for this year’s Big Green team was Dana Barry (’15), who averaged four points and three rebounds a game while playing underneath the boards and earned the team’s award as its Most Improved Player for her efforts. Another young forward was Kemi Akande (’15) who collected a nightly average of three points, three rebounds and three steals.
“Our strong points this year were our defense and our heart,” said Barnes. “The kids might have gotten behind on the scoreboard this season, but they never gave up until the final buzzer. I’m very proud of these kids for that trait and I know it’s one of the building blocks we’ll use for next season.
“Offensively,” added the Big Green coach, “ we just have to learn how to find the open player on the court … we need to distribute the ball more. We struggled in that department this season and the opposition was able to take advantage of that fact.”