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Wellesley's Blake Dietrick emerging on the court at Princeton University

Blake Dietrick earns
new role at Princeton

Blake Dietrick was limited to 8.3 minutes per game as a freshman guard at Princeton University last season, primarily backing up two-time Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Lauren Polansky .

The career scoring leader in both basketball and lacrosse at Wellesley High, Dietrick became determined to prove she could be a more complete player at Princeton, the three-time defending league champion.

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Realizing that her quickness and defense needed work, over the summer the 5-foot-10 Dietrick worked with a personal trainer for the first time. She also has benefited from her one-on-one battles with Polansky, the team’s senior captain this season.

Her hard work is paying off.

With Polansky sidelined with a stress fracture, Dietrick had started five games through Tuesday, and, according to head coach Courtney Banghart,  deserved the opportunity.

“Blake has earned it. She's a more mature player and her impact goes well beyond her scoring,” said Banghart, whose team was 9-5 prior to Saturday's Ivy League opener against visiting Pennsylvania. “I keep challenging her and she keeps meeting those challenges.”

Dietrick was averaging 7.2 points and 4 rebounds a game, but the stats are misleading.

As a starter, she was a force Dec. 21 in a loss to DePaul with 16 points in 29 minutes. She's gone the full 40 minutes twice, including on Tuesday when she recorded 13 points and 6 rebounds to help the host Tigers top Navy, 70-50.

“Confidence is so much a part of the college game, and even though I'm still a sophomore and not a team captain, I know I have to step up and I've learned so much from L.P.,’’ Dietrick said, referring to Polansky. “She's a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year, and working against her in practice has helped me get my shot off faster. When you're tested like that, it can only make you better.”

In high school, Dietrick worked on her shooting at Wellesley College, where her mother, Martha , is an associate athletic director, and Kathy Hagerstrom, the basketball team’s coach until 2009, often gave her pointers.

“I'd be there at 6 a.m. before going to school and late at night after doing my homework,” she said. “The Wellesley College players were like big sisters to me.”

Dietrick knew she wanted to attend Princeton. The question was which sport she would play.

The answer this year is both.

Dietrick, who did not play lacrosse for the Tigers last season, has been given the OK from Banghart — a soccer and basketball star at Dartmouth — to switch uniforms after the basketball season.

“Basketball is a passion and that was my focus last year,'' said Dietrick, who scored 1,440 career points for Wellesley High, reaching the 1,000-point milestone as a junior in the same game that senior captain Mary Louise Dixon duplicated the accomplishment.

Dixon, a junior point guard at Stonehill, ranked 23d in ­Division 2 this season, dished out a career-high 14 assists in last Sunday's 84-67 victory over Merrimack.

Dietrick played on undefeated Bay State Conference basketball teams as a sophomore and junior with Dixon for head coach Kristin Cieri. She also torched lacrosse opponents for 331 career goals and 180 assists to help lead the Raiders to four conference titles and South sectional semifinal appearances.

“We lost in the lacrosse tournament to Westwood every time, but we only lost one other game in my four seasons, and I’ve really missed it,” she said.

Her father, Steve , who played the sport at Williams, noted that “lacrosse is basketball with sticks,” said Dietrick, “and they definitely complement each other. I love them both.”

Connor Quinn revs up for Bowdoin hockey

Sophomore forward Connor Quinn  of Sudbury has picked up his offensive pace for the surging men’s hockey team at Bowdoin, which was 12-0-1 (7-0-1 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference) prior to this weekend’s games against Wesleyan and Trinity.

Quinn, who attended Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High and the Pomfret School, had played in all 13 games and had scored 5 goals — one shorthanded — and eclipsed his freshman total with 8 points. He had 2 goals and 4 assists a year ago.

“He's a unique talent, a very gifted athlete with an old-school approach,” said Bowdoin’s veteran head coach, Terry Meagher, whose team is ranked fourth nationally in Division 3. “His greatest asset is his skating ability, he can beat people one on one with that extra pop and he’s very effective and dangerous when we’re a man down,” added Meagher. “Connor has the potential to be a very special college player.”

Quinn, who played football in high school, has opted to suit up for Bowdoin’s rugby squad.

Rainer goes all out for Williams basketball

Senior forward/center Danny Rainer  of Marlborough has starred on both ends of the court — and then some — for the women’s basketball team at Williams, 10-2 through last weekend (1-1 NESCAC).

A starter in 37 consecutive games, Rainer was leading the conference in field goal percentage (42 of 71, .592) and the team in rebounds (84), blocks (28), and assists (40).

Her 19-point, 14-rebound effort against Wesleyan on Dec. 8 earned the 6-foot Groton School grad a berth on the New England Women's Basketball Association’s weekly honor roll.

Prior to weekend NESCAC games against Wesleyan and Connecticut College, Rainer had a career shooting percentage of 49.9 percent (210-421).

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.
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