Holy Family girls complete season of growth, accomplishment

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Grace Thibault started as a freshman and is expected to lead the up-and-coming Griffins into next season.  Stacy Harrison photo

LITTLETON,  NH – Already down one starting player, and in an uphill battle against the top team in Division IV, the Holy Family Academy girls basketball team quickly found itself facing additional adversity.

Missing starting center Elianny Gonzales-Pena due to a family conflict, the Griffins trekked nearly two hours north for a Division-IV quarterfinals matchup against undefeated Littleton Friday night.

“We played a competitive first quarter and then we got hit in the face, both literally and figuratively,” said Holy Family head coach Joseph Williams. “Our opponents, to their credit, began to play a very active and aggressive game.”

That aggression, said Williams, led to two key, albeit unintentional, injuries.

In addition to one of the team’s best defensive players accidentally being hit in the mouth and having to go into the locker room for an extended period of time to stop the bleeding, starting guard Grace Thibault took a shoulder to her jaw, which effectively took her out of the game, said Williams.

“Considering Littleton has an amazing team, we were going to have to be firing on all cylinders and these early setbacks definitely didn’t help,” he said. “There is a reason Littleton is undefeated and they deserve all the credit. They did a great job of scrambling our defense and creating good isolation opportunities both at the three and under the basket. They just played great on both sides of the ball.”

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Holy Family head girls basketball coach Joseph Williams. Stacy Harrison photo
Despite suffering a 69-32 season-ending loss  in the contest, Williams said his girls have nothing to hang their heads over.

Not only did the Griffins earn an 11-7 regular-season record, their first winning campaign since joining NHIAA competitive play prior to the 2020-’21 season, they won their first playoff game, a 27-24 first-round road upset of eighth-ranked Moultonborough last Tuesday.

“Overall, we had a great season. Making it to the playoffs and the quarterfinals was a big goal of ours and a huge accomplishment for our team this season,” he said. “I am incredibly proud of my entire team and how they played. There were some ups and downs, but they always rose to every challenge, never gave up or quit and had some wonderful accomplishments. I can’t say enough good things about each of them individually and as a team.”

The Griffins now bid farewell to two key cogs in this year’s success, seniors Emily Richardson and Tess Nickerson.

“While neither was a starter this season, they both were important contributors to our team,” said Williams. “A team isn’t just about the starters. It’s about an entire group of individuals who sacrifice and challenge each other, day in and day out, to be better. Like metal sharpening metal, our seniors did that all season. They are both wonderful young ladies and great teammates and we are really going to miss them.”

The example they set, however, is expected to carry into next season as will the invaluable playoff experience his underclassmen earned these last couple weeks, said Williams.

In addition to Gonzalez-Pena and Grace Thibault, the Griffins are expected to return junior Torrey Pedone and Elizabeth Mcgee; sophomores Mariana Vicinanzo and Annie Mcgee; freshmen Claire Thibault, Ryan Pedone, and eighth grader LizKenza Yonkeu.

“We have a young team with a good amount of talent and potential,” he said. “I am really looking forward to seeing how they improve their individual skills in the offseason so we can work on being an even better team next year.”

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Starter Elianny Gonzalez-Pena is one of several key contributors expected back next season. Stacy Harrison photo

About this Author

Ryan O'Connor

As a longtime journalist in Southern New Hampshire, Ryan O'Connor has written for several local online and print publications covering everything from school board meetings and local high school sporting events to major crime stories and New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary (yes, the last two are mutually exclusive). In addition to spending time with his beautiful wife and four amazing children, Ryan enjoys attending and serving at church, golfing as much as possible, home brewing, playing softball and snowboarding when time allows.