For some people, the basketball court is a sanctuary, a place to escape the stresses of everyday life and to focus on the net and only the net.
That is the case for Amber Filkins , a junior forward for the 3-1 Wareham High School girls’ basketball team.
Filkins learned her love of the game from her father, with whom she spent most of her time as a child.
“I don’t live with my mom,” said Filkins. “My dad pushed me to get involved and to keep me busy . . . keep me out of trouble. As I started getting a little older, I just started loving the game.”
Filkins broke the school record for the most three-pointers in a game with 8 in a 68-34 win over Seekonk on Dec. 18. She also reached a career-high 31 points against Dighton-Rehoboth Regional on Dec. 21.
“When it comes to this season I’ve realized that the team needs not only scoring from me, but an all-around game, so coming into games I’ve just been focusing on defense . . . rebounding because that’s really important,” said Filkins.
Filkins is clearly a leader on the court, averaging 18 points per game after the first three contests this season. She is in tune with her teammates’ strengths and weaknesses, and recognizes what they need to improve on.
“Especially when we play bigger teams we need to rebound, box out,” said Filkins. “I know I’ve improved in that area, and also my conditioning has improved dramatically from last season. I’ve been pushing myself in practice. We’re definitely all improving individually and as a team.”
David Brogioli is in his first season as head coach for the Vikings. He was head coach of the girls’ basketball team at Fairhaven High School from 2001-2008, and then volunteered with his brother, Kevin Brogioli , head coach of the boys’ basketball team at Wareham High.
Brogioli describes Filkins as the best shooter, male or female, he has ever coached.
“I’ve had some good shooters in my time over at Fairhaven, but she’s outstanding,’’ he said. “She’s been getting better overall.” And that is just part of her game. “She’s a very good defensive rebounder,” he said. “She’s averaging 10 rebounds a game.’’
Filkins started on the varsity as a freshman, putting all of her energy into the game. Her coach recognizes her motivation to succeed.
“I’m impressed by her every day and blown away by her,” Brogioli said. “Off the court she’s a straight A student. On the court she’s developing into becoming a leader. Now she leads by example and her play speaks for itself. We’re trying to build people up around her.”
Brogioli first noticed Filkins as a talented shooter while he was volunteering with the Wareham boys’ team.
“I saw Amber and saw her shooting,” said Brogioli. “She wasn’t showcased much in their offense. I thought that she could definitely be a big-time scorer.”
He also praises Breanna Muir for her scoring performance. “The two of them are just true basketball players, and they’re carrying us right now.”
Filkins attributes Wareham’s success to a team effort.
“Breanna Muir is our junior captain and point guard,” said Filkins. “Last year we had Lexi [Silvia], so coming into this season she knew she was going to have a ton of pressure on her, but so far she’s been playing just incredible.”
Filkins says of Muir, “She is probably the hardest worker on our team. She handles the ball very well. She’s an awesome teammate to have.”
Since Muir and Filkins are both juniors, Brogioli is optimistic about not only this season, but the next.
“I just want to be a leader for the younger girls that look up to all of us,” said Filkins. “My senior year I want to go out with a bang, so I’m going to keep working hard and just get my teammates involved in everything.”
Team chemistry has been key for the Vikings’ success. The girls spend a lot of time together outside of practice and games.
“I feel like we are very close on and off the court,” said Filkins. “We have team sleep-overs and team dinners to keep us close. We know if we stay close off the court, it’s only going to help us on the court as far as working together.”
Brogioli is confident about the future and his roster improving as the season continues. He tries to encourage initiative among the girls by recognizing them for stellar game performances.
“We’ve been naming game captains,” said Brogioli. “They’ve all been working hard. The captains were named before I came: Breanna Muir and senior Caroline Matta . When I got there I saw some other kids are stepping up and going in a new direction. I’m very pleased with the work ethic of the kids.”
The Vikings play Friday at Old Rochester Regional against the 2-0 Bulldogs.Coryn Doncaster can be reached at email@example.com.