Published December 20, 2018
By DAN NUNN
NORTH READING — With 11 players returning with significant varsity experience from last season’s squad that finished 16-6 and made it to the D2 North quarterfinals, the 2018-19 NRHS girls’ basketball team is poised to make a run at the Cape Ann League Kinney Division title.
Senior captain Casey McAuliffe, a 2017-18 CAL All-Star and the team’s leading scorer, returns alongside fellow senior captain Mia DeNofrio who is one of the best defenders in the league. Junior Allie Grasso, who head coach Bob Melillo referred to as “our most talented player” was a CAL All-Conference player last year and will serve as the starting point guard.
Junior Lauren Sullivan was also a CAL All-Star who has improved her game over the offseason and should start as well. Most likely rounding out the starting lineup will be sophomore Julia Howse who Melillo says is a great inside scorer, with a very good 3-point shot and has the potential to be one of the best players in the league.
Senior Sydney Davis and juniors Kiley McCarthy, Maggie Majeski and Julia DiNapoli are experienced players that will come off the bench. The remainder of the roster will be filled with three newcomers; junior Madison Cullen, sophomore Kaitlyn Copelas and freshman Nasha Arnold.
Even though they will face stiff competition in the CAL from the likes of Masco, Pentucket, Newburyport, Amesbury and Manchester-Essex, Melillo believes that with such a talented roster the sky is the limit for the Hornets.
Down Newburyport in home opener 53-45
Casey McAuliffe scored 17 points to lead the Hornets to their 53-45 season-opening victory over the visiting Newburyport Clippers on Friday night. Julia Howse was impressive as well with 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
Both teams looked rusty in the opening quarter. Both offenses struggled and at the end of one the Clippers clung to a 9-7 lead. Things heated up in the second and third quarters. By the 3:30 mark of the second quarter, Newburyport increased the lead to 21-16.
But from that point until the end of the third it was all Hornets. North Reading went on a blistering 26-5 run and by the end of three they turned the five-point deficit into a 42-26 lead.
In the fourth, the Clippers tried to fight back and with 3:45 left they cut the lead to 44-37. But that was as close as they would get and NRHS went on to the 53-45 victory.