Andover is back.
The Division 1 powerhouse graduated shooting guard Natalie Gomez-Martinez (14.1 ppg) but otherwise the team is intact. Its breadwinner, Nicole Boudreau, is fired up and ready to impress in her senior year.
Boudreau (22.1 ppg), a two-time All-Scholastic, has anchored the Golden Warriors back-to-back state titles. The Boston College-bound senior notched her 1,500th career point as a junior and will likely break 2,000 before she leaves Andover. Heading into the weekend, Boudreau was at 1,612 points.
The Golden Warriors are striving for a third straight state title. Coach Jim Tildsley is ready to get to work. The team is 4-1 with a road loss to Pomfret in its second game of the season.
“We’re looking to run the same game,’’ Tildsley said. “We’re going to pressure people and try to score off the break. We’ve got to pressure the defense and look to win.’’
Andover welcomes back four-year starting guard Ally Fazio (9.4 ppg), junior guard Devon Caveney (11.2 ppg), and forward Jackie Alois, in addition to Boudreau.
“All four have gotten better,’’ Tildsley said. “They’ve improved on their game. They’re excited, determined. Nicole and Ally are very good leaders.’’
In the South, last year’s title-contending teams are looking to get their groove back with losses plaguing their squads. Division 1 South champ New Bedford graduated five seniors, including the team’s leading scorer, Alyssa Roach. New Bedford welcomes back long-range shooter Allexia Barros.
Before advancing to the Garden against Andover, New Bedford narrowly escaped with a win over Mansfield, 47-46, in the South final last year. Mansfield said goodbye to seven seniors so coach Mike Redding knows it will be difficult to recreate last season, especially without 6-foot forward Colleen Copley to control the boards. Four-year guard Michaela Bowes returns to lead the way.
After taking home its first state championship last year, Arlington Catholic is thirsty for another. Led by Emma Roberson, who averaged double figures last season, the squad is ready for another trip to the DCU Center.
Roberson blossomed last season, and capped off a groundbreaking team effort with a game-high 16 points in the 46-28 rout of Millbury for the title. The Cougars trounced Gloucester, 62-49, in the Division 2 North title game before advancing to the state final.
Reading went 21-2 last year but the season ended with a disappointing loss to Gloucester in the North semifinals. All-Scholastic forward Olivia Healy returns. The Middlesex League MVP averaged 17.1 points per game last year. Morgan O’Brien is back to help carry the load, as well. The junior guard contributed 12.6 ppg with 41 3-pointers last year. Reading is led by 14-year coach Kim Penney, who boasts a 198-89 career record.
In the South, Hopkinton is looking for another shot.
The Hillers, coached by Rita Atkinson, lost by eight to Arlington Catholic in the Division 2 semifinals after taking down Scituate, 52-50, for the Division 2 South crown. Hopkinton has three returning starters, including 6-foot center Alee Leteria (committed to Stonehill), Lindsay Doucette, who is a slasher and a threat from deep, and Tess Chandler, a junior guard.
Atkinson is eager to see what Leteria will do this year.
“She can play the inside-outside game, she can shoot the three, she can post up, and she can defend the post,’’ Atkinson said of Leteria.
Bishop Feehan and Scituate will also remain threats this season, with Feehan’s top scorer Lexi Sells returning, and Scituate’s returning core trio of Meghan Otto, Kelly Martin, and Shannon Brady.
Without Tori Faieta and Cassi Amenta, St. Mary’s will be challenged this winter. Coach Jeff Newhall knows it will be a tough road back to title town, but he’s ready to brave it.
“We did lose a lot, but I think we have a lot coming back,’’ Newhall said. “We’re very optimistic despite being young this year that we can still be right in the mix.’’
It will be up to last year’s sixth man, Ann Marie Idusuyi, to replace All-Scholastic Faieta, currently playing at Stonehill. At 6-1, Idusuyi stands an inch shorter than Faieta, but got significant time off the bench last year and is averaging 16 rebounds, 8 points, and 7 blocks through the first three games.
Coyle & Cassidy, which lost to St. Mary’s in the Division 3 EMass final, 53-50, lost its biggest threat in school record-holder Brenna Gonsalves. Now the squad will look to Missy Perry, who is formidable when she’s outside the arc, as well as Tricia Quinn and Linsay Bumila.
After edging out South Shore League heavyweight Cohasset in the South semifinals, Hull made a name for itself last year. The underdog Pirates, who finished the regular season at 10-10, toppled New Mission, 64-55, and finished their entry into the Cinderella story playbook as state champs. But Hull will be without leading scorer Nicole Heavern (Babson) and five other graduated seniors.
Fenway is a contendor in the North with sharpshooter Tajanay Veiga-Lee. The junior averaged a double-double last season and recently joined the 1,000-point club in the 46th game of her career. New Mission will battle Fenway in the city, led by All-Scholastic Tianna Johnson.
With Jen Gonsalves back to slash more records, Harwich is strong. The Rough Riders have already beat defending state champ Hull, 68-37. Gonsalves owns the school’s girls’ scoring record and needs 201 points to break the record set by Glen Rose in 1974.