CONCORD — Few individuals can reshape a high school basketball program. Yet, that’s exactly what Kori Barach is doing at Concord-Carlisle.
The 16-year-old sophomore changed the narrative of the program as a freshman, and is a key piece in making it into a true Division 1 Central contender this season. The 12th-ranked Patriots (9-1) are buoyed by the 5-foot-10-inch Barach, who does it all by averaging 20.2 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals per game.
“It’s more than points, I think there’s also an intensity and competitiveness,” said Concord-Carlisle coach Kim Magee. “The culture of the program has changed, and I think she’s been a big part of that, pushing everyone to perform at a higher level.”
Magee took over as head coach of the program three years ago, when Barach was in eighth grade. The Patriots struggled to a 1-17 record in back-to-back seasons, including Magee’s debut in 2016-17.
But seeds were planted for future success. Magee knew about an impending talent rush. So did Hope Lefebvre and Annie Brennan , now senior captains, and junior Courtney Sepucha , who played varsity hoops during the Patriots’ down years. They’ve also played a key role in the team’s newfound swagger.
“They know how hard it can be and take nothing for granted,” Magee said. “This team plays with a grit that is sometimes uncommon with teams that have had a lot of success because they know how to fight for a point.”
Lefebvre and the older players began running summer camps for the youth players, played pickup games constantly, and participated in spring clinics. The promising talent of the current underclassmen willed the older players to prepare.
Queue Barach and the blast of youth.
As a freshman, Barach was the Dual County League’s Small Division Most Valuable Player. She willed the Patriots to an 11-10 record and a berth in the Division 1 Central tournament. She led the team in nearly every statistic, averaging 15.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.4 steals and 4.1 assists per game.
“I’m a competitive person and knew I wanted to step it up and help us succeed,” Barach said.
She deflects the credit for her team’s success to C-C’s savvy upperclassmen.
“Our captains have been such good leaders,” she said. “Last year, as a freshman, I didn’t know a lot besides basketball.
“Being on a good, successful basketball team is not about how you are as a player, it’s about the good team work, camaraderie, and chemistry.”
Lefebvre lauds Barach’s talent.
“Honestly, it’s just such a privilege to get to play with her and against her everyday,” Lefebvre said. “It’s so fun to match up with her in practice, I think it’s made me a better player, and I think everyone on the team can agree with that.”
Kori has a twin brother, Austin, and twin siblings, Rachel and Tucker, in ninth grade at Concord-Carlisle. Rachel joined Kori in the starting lineup this season, and is one of five freshmen on the 11-player varsity squad.
“Everyone has been so nice,” Rachel said. “The upperclassmen have been so good to us freshmen.”
Those mentors include her own sister.
“We spend time together 24/7 now, but I know Rachel better than anyone does,” Kori said. “If she’s struggling, I can help her.”
Concord-Carlisle got its 10th win in the 19th game of the last season, this year it should come much earlier. Magee cited early wins over Tewksbury and No. 19 Cambridge that instilled the confidence in her team to “make it a special season.”
They made it to the tournament last year, and with talent across all four classes, its sensational sophomore Barach in particular, the Patriots are poised for success.
“I want us to win a playoff game, and I’m pretty confident we can do so,” Kori Barach said.
■ With no seniors on its roster, the key to Norwood’s 10-0 start is unselfishness.
In the third quarter of a win over Milford earlier this month, the No. 20 Mustangs passed the ball six times before connecting on a trey for their 51st point on the night.
“We have really good team chemistry right now,” said Norwood coach Amy Lepley. “The girls have all put their egos aside. We don’t really care about individual stats, we’re just trying to get better as a team everyday.”
Six different players have stepped up to lead the Mustangs in scoring thus far. Freshman center Megan Olbrys is pacing them, scoring a hair under 13 points a game and grabbing roughly 10.5 rebounds. Junior guard Emma Maturo is averaging nearly 9.5 points.
Being consistent will be crucial to the team’s success going forward.
“I think there’s been few times this year where we’ve strung a full 32 minutes together,” said Lepley. “We’ve been leaving a lot of points on the table whether that be layups or foul shots.”
■ After a rebuilding year (11-11) last season, No. 15 Andover, led by 6-2 senior forward Gia Bramanti, has regained its footing, opening this season at 9-2.
“We really focused on just defending, rebounding and winning in transition,” said second-year coach Alan Hibino. “Creating offense from defense is a big part of our success.”
■ On Tuesday, Pembroke senior Jayne Howe drained a 3-pointer with four minutes left to become the program’s all-time leading scorer with 799 points, suprassing Sam McGibbon ’s 798.
■ Last Friday, Brockton senior guard Jaila Smith faced off against her dad, first-year Durfee head coach Marcel Smith, with the Boxers scoring a 67-28 victory.
■ Medfield product and Babson junior Payton Ouimette was named NEWMAC co-offensive Player of the Week after posting two double-doubles and averaging 16.3 ppg, 12 rpg and 2.7 apg.
■ Former Cambridge Rindge and Latin standout Yuleska Ramirez-Tejeda averaged 23 ppg and 13.3 rpg, while shooting 55.4 percent from the floor last week for Emmanuel to earn GNAC Player of the Week honors. The junior netted 27 points and corralled 20 rebounds against Regis last Thursday.
Games to Watch
Thursday, Fontbonne at Pope John, (6:30 p.m.) — An intriguing test for the Haidul twins and the 19th-ranked Tigers (10-1) against the pesky Ducks (9-1).
Friday, Brockton at Bridgewater-Raynham, (6:30 p.m.) — Everything’s clicking for the top-ranked Trojans (10-0) as the upstart Boxers (7-3) come to town.
Friday, Bishop Fenwick at St. Mary’s (Lynn), (6:30 p.m.) – A Catholic Central League bout as Sammi Gallant and the Crusaders (6-3) look to gain some consistency this season against the dangerous Spartans (8-3).
F riday, Belmont at Woburn, (6:30 p.m.) – Can anyone slow down the 10-0 Marauders? The Tanners, winners of four straight, take their shot vs. visiting Belmont.
Tuesday, Franklin at Foxborough (6:30 p.m.) — This top-10 matchup features the top scorers in the Hockomock League as Ali Brigham (23.6 ppg) and the No. 7 Panthers (8-0) go head-to-head with Kaitlyn Mollica (20.6 ppg) and the No. 8 Warriors (9-0).
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nate Rollins also contributed to this story..