EASTHAM — The Nauset Regional High School girls basketball season didn’t end the way the team wanted it to, but senior leader Avery Burns feels good knowing that she and the rest of the team left everything they had on the court.
“I think we definitely did,” Burns said. “We were lucky to even play in tournament games. It was so exciting.”
The Warriors lost to the Falmouth Clippers 49-45 in the Cape & Islands League Championship game on Feb. 26, after finishing the regular season 12-1 and earning the second seed in the league tournament.
The team was led by its four seniors: Korin Mereste, Makayla Hutchinson, Ashley Ross, and Burns. The four girls have played together since fifth grade and were poised to lead Nauset to a league championship title. But in the team’s Feb. 2 game against Dennis-Yarmouth, point guard Hutchinson tore her anterior cruciate ligament and was forced to bow out for the rest of the season.
“We were hit by reality with that,” Burns said. “We knew that she would have given us her all. Once we realized she was done, we had to work with what we had. And we did that.”
Hutchinson was the team’s third-leading scorer, and not having her available in the league championship was tough.
“Going into the game we knew we had to go all out,” Burns said.
The championship game proved to be the final time the senior quartet (with or without Hutchinson) will play together.
“Afterward, it took us a moment for it to finally hit,” Burns said.
Burns said that, when she looks back on this season, she’ll focus on the good memories. One point of pride is that Nauset was the only girls team in the Cape & Islands League that didn’t have to postpone a game due to Covid health and safety protocols on their end.
“We remained still in play,” Burns said. “Even those extra days meant so much to us to know that our commitment level was high and everyone was safe.”
To ensure the team’s health, players had to limit their social activity outside of school and couldn’t even hold team dinners as they normally would.
Individually, Burns has plenty to be proud of this year. She was the team’s leading scorer, averaging more than 20 points per game, including a 32-point effort against the Nantucket Whalers. She’s regarded as one of the best high school players in Eastern Massachusetts.
A lot of her shots came from behind the three-point line. In the last 5 to 10 years, three-pointers have become an integral part of the game for high school, college, and professional basketball players. These shots stretch the length of the court the defense has to cover, making them almost impossible to stop.
Burns said her shooting skill is something she worked on from a very young age. “My outside shot is definitely something I’m glad I’d worked on and don’t have to play catch up,” she said. “I had that foundation, and it served me well. Threes really set the tone for games.”
There isn’t one star player Burns models her game after; she prefers underdogs. “I’m always watching professional and college women play because I can really picture myself in their shoes,” she said. “My favorite college player is Sabrina Ionescu from Oregon. I like the underrated players who shine in big moments.”
Her biggest accomplishment at Nauset? “I would say it’s more the mental aspect of navigating through four different coaches,” Burns said. “I respect all the coaches that I’ve had, even though it’s been hard. I’ve grown a lot as a player and person because of them.”
Despite all the changes, Coach John Piemontese has been head coach for the last two years, and it’s been a great fit. “I learned so much from Coach P,” Burns said. “He kept us together as a team.”
She will make her decision on where she will play basketball in college around March 10. She said she didn’t want to offer up any hints until then.
The boys basketball team lost its Cape & Islands League semifinal match against the Falmouth Clippers 32-30 on Feb. 24. The team finished the season 8-6. The boys hockey team finished its season at 3-8-1 after a 7-0 loss to the Sandwich Blue Knights on Feb. 20.
The Cape Cod Furies girls ice hockey team won its first league playoff game against Dennis-Yarmouth 2-1 in a double-overtime thriller on Feb. 25.
Nauset junior Charlotte Manganaro scored a goal to tie the game at 1-1 with about seven minutes left in regulation time. The game was stagnant for the rest of regulation and the first overtime.
The Furies’ freshman goalkeeper, Olivia Avellar, made two key saves to keep the game knotted at 1-1 in the second overtime. Finally, Nauset junior Julia Weiner scored with just minutes left to win the game. By the time the game was over, the clock had nearly hit 10 p.m.
The Furies lost 4-0 to Falmouth in the league semifinals two days later, but this season was the team’s most successful to date, with a record of 3-5-5. —Ryan Fitzgerald