Nashoba Girls Basketball Aiming High

Published in the December 23, 2008 issue of The Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

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The first day of the Nashoba Holiday Tournament unfolded on Thursday as if it had been scripted.

The invitational tournament's early game was an overtime thriller, and the nightcap matched second-year Nashoba Regional head coach Gary Kozloski against his father-in-law, longtime Oakmont head coach Jeff O'Neill. Prior to the nightcap, Kozloski's first-grade son Michael sang the national anthem without missing a word. And with six seconds remaining, the Chieftains were just two points down, one clutch three-pointer away from the upset.

But the happy ending on the last page of the script turned out in favor of the Spartans, who kept Nashoba from getting off a shot in the final seconds and held on to win 41-39.

Kozloski may have to wait another year for those family bragging rights, but the Chieftains' performance served notice that this season should be an improvement over last year's 4-16 campaign. Senior guard Jen Harding led the Chieftains with 13 points, while senior forwards Rebecca Krantz of Stow and Kelly Macko each added eight. Krantz also pulled down nine rebounds.

“It would have been nice to get the win, but in the scheme of the whole season I think we took a lot out of this game,” Kozloski said. “Our goal on defense is to hold teams to 10 points a quarter, and we did that except in the third quarter.”

The Chieftains are returning six players with varsity experience, but are implementing new offensive and defensive schemes this season. According to the original schedule, they would have had two games in which to work out some of the kinks prior to the tournament, but the recent spate of wintry weather forced the postponement of those two games and limited practice time as well.

“If that schedule had worked, things would have been aligned for us, because it takes a couple of games to really get into your own. Scrimmages are only so good,” Kozloski said. “Our new offense is the type of offense where it all works off reads, so the girls have to recognize which passes are being taken away and where the openings are, and they're still trying to pick that up. But for an offense like that, never having run it before, I thought they did well.”

The positive momentum didn't carry over to the tournament's consolation game on Saturday, in which Nashoba faced a motivated Algonquin team that two days earlier had blown a 16-point fourth-quarter lead and succumbed to Groton-Dunstable 57-54 in overtime. Against the turnover-prone Chieftains, the Tomahawks raced to a 20-6 first-quarter lead and never looked back, winning 45-22.

“When we were in our offense, we ran it well, but the turnovers killed us,” Kozloski said. “The refs were about the only people we didn't throw the ball to.”

Krantz was Nashoba's leading scorer on Saturday, with seven points. Although injuries have kept Krantz from being at the top of her game thus far, Kozloski likes what he's seeing from her.

“It took me almost a whole year to get to know how Rebecca plays,” he said. “She's not really a classic post player, she's more of a finesse player. She's a very good rebounder, but she won't really get in your face and box you out. She likes to tap rebounds, often to herself. To borrow a term from boys' basketball, she plays above the rim, although not literally. Last year I kept wanting to change that, get her to play tougher, but in the offseason I decided I need to play to the girls' strengths. So Rebecca usually plays on the back side of the offense, where she can pick up those long misses for second chance points.”

The 0-2 Chieftains will be looking for their first win today when they travel to Narragansett Regional. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 pm.

As for the Nashoba Holiday Tournament champion, that script remained unfinished. Saturday's championship game between Groton-Dunstable and Oakmont was postponed, and had not been rescheduled as of press time.

Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239