The girls’ basketball team finished with its best record since 2009-10, while winning a tournament game for the first time since 2012.
Coming into the season, first-year Whitman-Hanson Regional High girls’ basketball head coach Mike Costa had a hunch he had a good team on his hands.
“When I took this job, I knew what I was going to have in terms of personnel, and I knew the type of girls we had,” Costa said. “They all work extremely hard and are high character kids. Those are the two things that make teams successful. Everyone was willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team. There were no egos and they all accepted and wanted to be coached.
“Obviously, you want to strive to win the league championship and we fell short of our goal, due in large part to the amount of depth and talent our league has.”
While they didn’t win the Patriot League Keenan Division title, they still made significant progress. After posting their best regular-season record (14-6) since 2009-10, the Panthers knocked off Barnstable, 45-33, in the first round of the Div. 1 South tournament, for the program’s first playoff win in eight years, before they fell to top-seeded Bridgewater-Raynham, 67-47, in the next round.
“Barnstable gave us the best chance of getting a tournament win,” Costa said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy but the girls were resilient and pulled out a first-round win. Next up was Bridgewater-Raynham. We knew it was going to be a challenge with the amount of firepower that they have but we just wanted to go in and compete as hard as we could and see what happened.”
Senior captain Olivia Martin, classmate Brittany Gacicia and junior Reese Codero were named Patriot League All-Stars at season’s end.
A wing, Martin displayed her full skill set this winter, tossing in 9.5 points per game, on the strength of a team-best 40 3-pointers, while securing 2.9 rebounds per game. She hit the game-winning triple to send the Panthers past Saint Stephen’s Episcopal (Fla.) and into the finals of the Falcon Holiday Classic, which the Panthers won.
“Olivia Martin was big for us this season,” Costa said. “Obviously being the only captain she was looked to a lot for leadership. She won us a lot of games this year with her shooting. Above all, she is just a great kid. I am glad I got the chance to coach her and our program is really going to miss her. “
Gacicia, who was also a league all-star last season as well, led the team in points (11.9) rebounds (7.1), steals (2.5) and blocks per game.
“You always knew Brittany was going to stuff the stat sheet,” Costa said. “ She impacted the game in so many ways. Offensively, she was able to score from all three levels and defensively she was all over the place. When our team was struggling offensively, they would look to get the ball to Britt to make something happen.”
W-H’s starting point guard, Codero scored just over seven points per game, while dishing out a team-high 3.2 assists per game.
“She was just solid in every area for us,” Costa said. “She is a coach’s dream. She plays so hard and gives 100 percent effort each and every play. Sometimes you wish she would take her foot off of the gas a little bit, when she is diving for a loose ball out of bounds near the bleachers because you don’t want her to get hurt, but she knows no other way to play that’s just who she is. I am glad that I have her for another year and I expect big things from her again in her senior year.
Costa is also expecting big things from sophomores Abby Martin (4.5 pgg) and Megan Stone (5.8 ppg), both of whom he’ll have for another two years.
“They were both battling for starter’s minutes for the majority of the season,” he said. “Abby wound up starting more than Megan but really it was mostly because of matchups. They both complement each other so well. Abby was a huge piece for us defensively and really brought a toughness and physicality to our team. Megan gave us some scoring punch off of the bench. There would be games where she would only play 10-15 minutes but you look at the stat sheet and she is our second leading scorer. They both really rebound the ball at a high level and attack the offensive glass. We are excited for their growth moving forward.”
Costa said the future of the program is bright.
“We were able to accomplish things that the girls program has not been able to do in a long time, and I think that gives the girls some confidence heading into the offseason and next season,” he said. “We were young this year, only having two seniors, which I think bodes well for this group. It is nice to give such a young group experience playing in the tournament. Now they have been there in those types of environments which should make it more comfortable for them the next time around. This group has set the tone for what this program is and what it is going to become.”