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VanCoughnett provides toughness for title-driven Spartans

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ADAMS — Maybe someday. That was the caption on the below Times photo of an 11-year-old Brooke VanCoughnett, watching the 2006 South Jefferson girls basketball team practice just days after winning its second state title.

That someday is here, and there are no maybes about it. The Spartans' senior will take over the starting point guard position in her fourth varsity season, which will begin tonight against Watertown at Case Middle School.

VanCoughnett has been waiting 10 years to handle the ball for the Spartans. She was a team manager from second to eighth grade before getting called up to varsity as a freshman.

“When we looked at her back then we were thinking, 'She's a nice kid, a nice manager, probably never going to really develop into much of a player for us,'” said South Jefferson coach Pat Bassett, whose team advanced to the Class B state championship game before suffering its first loss last year, finishing 24-1.

“But with her tenacity and her physical toughness and mental toughness, what a role model for kids that maybe haven't been gifted with a whole bunch of athletic ability,” he added.

Bassett described VanCoughnett as the toughest player he has ever coached, and the No. 1 reason his team advanced to the state title game last season.

The 5-foot-4 guard's ability to rebound and track down the ball allowed Bassett to play five perimeter players and spread the floor with the dribble-drive offense, a lineup that the team didn't fully commit to until February.

“I knew I wasn't a very good scorer, so I knew I had to do some other things to help our team play at that level,” VanCoughnett said.

VanCoughnett did just about every other thing to help the Spartans. She led the team in minutes (488), rebounds per game (seven, three offensive), steals per game (2.48), and was second in assists per game (3.52).

During the team's five-game run from its first Section 3 playoff game through its win in the state quarterfinals, VanCoughnett averaged 13.4 rebounds, including a staggering 21 boards in the overall Class B sectional title game at the Carrier Dome.

“If somebody were to ask me to rank my top five or top 10 skill players since I've been here, Brooke would be nowhere near that,” Bassett said. “But if they asked me to rank my top five impact players, she's easily there. But it's all the little things. She's done it with just physical toughness and mental toughness.”

And while the team had the luxury of playing VanCoughnett off the ball last year, freeing her up to roam around and do all those little things, she knows her role will expand and her responsibilities will increase with the departure of last year's point guard and Times All-North Most Valuable Player, Amanda Roberts.

“It definitely is going to change. I have to handle the ball and be the point guard this year and a leader,” VanCoughnett said. “Right now I'm getting used to it, and my team is definitely helping me get better at it.”

“I'm a little nervous, but I think I'm ready for it this year,” she added.

VanCoughnett's entire family has helped the program during her 10 years with the team.

Her sister, Jessica, was a player on Bassett's first sectional title team. Bassett said that she might be the second toughest player he has coached.

Her mother, Cynthia, has been the team's scorekeeper since Brooke started managing and her father, Robert, used to coach in the youth program.

But after this year, with Brooke being the youngest in her family, Bassett might have to wait for the next generation of VanCoughnetts to get a player with that kind of toughness and reliability.

Maybe someday.

Here is a look at the Frontier League.

“A” DIVISION

Outlook: Carthage has won the past four regular-season championships, and is the favorite entering the year. Zakiya Saunders, who will play for Division I University at Albany next year, is back to lead the Comets after averaging 16.4 points, 11 rebounds and over five steals per game in her first season in the league last year... Indian River is likely to provide the biggest threat, with four returning starters and six of its top seven scorers returning from a year ago. The Warriors will also add a pair of transfer students to the mix and expect to have a deep bench. Immaculate Heart lost all five starters to graduation, and its leading returning scorer, Kayla Miles, will miss the season with a knee injury. The Cavaliers expect to compete with strong perimeter shooting, and will rely on its only returning player with significant varsity experience in senior point guard Maddy Brand. The Cyclones will lean on junior Katie Aldrich, a strong returning post player, as it hopes to continue its progression after taking a step forward with an improved record last season.

Carthage Comets

Coach: Randi Smith (8th year).

2011-12 record: 16-3 (8-2).

Players to watch: Zakiya Saunders, Kendra Bates.

Roster: Lexi Smith (Fr.), Mari Ames (Jr.), Ashley Hall (Jr.), Hannah Millich (Jr.), Gabby O'Brien (So.), Ally Woods (Sr.), Kayla Gonzalez (Jr.), Kendra Bates (Jr.), Kat Hewitt (Sr.), Zakiya Saunders (Sr.).

Immaculate Heart Cavaliers

Coach: Jeff St.Croix (29th year overall, 15th girls).

2011-12 record: 10-10 (6-4).

Players to watch: Maddy Brand, Brittany Dunnigan.

Roster: Maddy Brand (Sr.), Brittany Dunnigan (Sr.), Becca Lazore (Jr.), Rachel O'Brien (Jr.), Anna Puccia (Jr.), Danielle Pound (Jr.), Anna Garrabrant (So.), Jaid Baytos (So.).

Indian River Warriors

Coach: Jim Whitley (17th year).

2011-12 record: 11-8 (5-5).

Players to watch: Emily Kuba, Katie Brierton, Paige Fayette.

Roster: Sarah Mattingly (So.), Paige Fayette (Sr.), Emily Kuba (Sr.), Ashlynn Borce (Jr.), Kelsi Nabywaniec (So.), Telicia Jackson (So.), Katie Brierton (Sr.), Lakeisha Barnes (Sr.), Morgan Nabywaniec (Sr.), Kammikia Barnes (Fr.), Emma Bonk (So.).

Watertown Cyclones

Coach: Jerry Levine (23rd year).

2011-12 record: 7-11 (4-6).

Players to watch: Katie Aldrich, Morgan Cadwell, Hannah Levine.

Roster: Katie Aldrich (Jr.), Logan Bush (Fr.), Morgan Cadwell (Sr.), Kailey Endres (Sr.), Morgan Exford (Sr.), Kira Kolb (So.), Shytarra Lemon (So.), Hannah Levine (So.), Hannah Martini (So.), Courtney Netto (Jr.).

“B” DIVISION

Outlook: Lowville's move to Class C has caused some scheduling changes for this division. All three teams will play each other twice, in addition to two crossover games against each “A” Division team and one crossover game against each of the “C” schools. There will be no divisional playoffs as well as no “A/B” crossover championship game. South Jefferson should be a safe bet to win its 12th straight league title, with three starters returning. In addition to VanCoughnett, the Spartans return Times All-North first teamer Austin Stevens and Clarissa Perry, who tied the school record for 3-pointers made in a season as a freshman last year. General Brown could be one of the league's top teams with returning all-stars, Katie Pitkin and Nikki Maier. Senior Monica Makuch is also back after missing all of last season with a knee injury, re-uniting with Pitkin to form a strong inside tandem. A-P-W lost six seniors from last year's team, and is looking for its five returnees to help it compete in a difficult division.

Altmar-Parish- Williamstown Rebels

Coach: Michelle Whitley (13th year).

2011-12 record: 9-10 (6-8).

Players to watch: Alexis Stevens, Erin Stever, Kylee Bartlett.

Roster: Emily Earl (Sr.), Jaklyn Fisher (Sr.), Sophia Lembo (Fr.), Maggie Cooper (So.), Alexis Stevens (Jr.), Katie Palmer (So.), Emilie Mullin (Jr.), Karley Hilton (So.), Erin Stever (Jr.), Becky Trexler (Sr.), Kylee Bartlett (So.), Karigan Shawcross (Fr.), Tori Homza (Jr.).

General Brown Lions

Coach: Mike Hulbert (5th year).

2011-12 record: 9-10 (7-7).

Players to watch: Katie Pitkin, Nikki Maier, Monica Makuch.

Roster: Gabby West (Jr.), Alexa Clemons (Jr.), Rhea Pitkin (Fr.), Cayla O'Connor (So.), Lyndsie Danks (Sr.), Nikki Maier (Sr.), Katie Pitkin (Jr.), Sam Sampson (Jr.), Katie Mahaffey (Sr.), Monica Makuch (Sr.), Kendall Kolb (Sr.), Hope VanBrocklin (Sr.).

South Jefferson Spartans

Coach: Pat Bassett (13th year).

2011-12 record: 24-1 (14-0).

Players to watch: Austin Stevens, Brooke VanCoughnett, Clarissa Perry.

Roster: Austin Stevens (Jr.), Zoey Smith (Sr.), Brooke VanCoughnett (Sr.), Marisa Clark (So.), Jenny McLean (Jr.), Marissa Garland (Jr.), Clarissa Perry (So.), Kyra Kempney (So.), Quincy Zimmerman (Fr.), Lucy Smoot (Sr.).

“C” DIVISION

Outlook: Thousand Islands is the heavy favorite to repeat as champion, returning four starters, including Times All-North first-teamer, Kristin McGraw, and an experienced point guard in Alesha Waterman. The Vikings also have two guards returning from injuries that forced them to miss last season that should give them strong depth... A young South Lewis squad will need to find a way to replace the graduated Amelia Campbell if it hopes to challenge for the division... Lowville, moving down from the “B” Division, expects to be more competitive in its new league behind returning all-star Anna Platz. Sandy Creek returns all five starters and Beaver River returns a trio of starters, leaving each team feeling optimistic about improving.

Beaver River Beavers

Coach: Lansing Petzoldt (2nd year).

2011-12 record: 5-14 (4-11).

Players to watch: Abigail Cornell, Dallas Briot, Emma Puddington.

Roster: Dallas Briot (Sr.), Abigail Cornell (Sr.), Allison Meyer (Sr.), Maysa Tannous (Sr.), Taylor Buell (Jr.), Kristen Campeau (Jr.), Hallie Lehman (Jr.), Emma Puddington (7th).

Lowville Red Raiders

Coach: Nicole Ortlieb (2nd year).

2011-12 record: 2-15 (1-13).

Players to watch: Anna Platz, Alexa Yousey, Emma St.Croix, Ellory Roberts.

Roster: Anna Platz (Sr.), Chelsea Lobdell (Sr.), Ashley Sullivan (Sr.), Maggie Griffiths (Jr.), Jessica Fuller (Jr.), Megan Hill (Jr.), Ellory Roberts (Jr.), Madison Terrillion (Jr.), Devan Wolf (Jr.), Alexa Yousey (Jr.), Valerie Gonzalez (Jr.), Emma St.Croix (Jr.), Laura Scroth (Jr.), Ana Donets (Jr.), Elena Becker (Jr.).

Sandy Creek Comets

Coach: Jonn Stoker (2nd year).

2011-12 record: 4-12 (4-11).

Players to watch: Toni Gray, Ashley Bonney.

Roster: Jordan Miller (Sr.), Ashley Bonney (Sr.), Karintha Myslivecek (Sr.), Toni Gray (Sr.), Mykayla Howlett (Sr.), Amber Bonney (Sr.), Ashley McNitt (Sr.), Kartida Pitimana (Sr.), Sierra Steele (Jr.), Alishia Paige (So.).

South Lewis Falcons

Coach: Mike Niles (2nd year).

2011-12 record: 5-13 (4-11).

Players to watch: Rachel Newell, Ronni Ehlers.

Roster: Rachel Newell (Sr.), Ronni Ehlers (Sr.), Ashley Szewil (Sr.), Tori Hanno (Sr.), Sage Galarneau (Jr.), Miranda Rys (Jr.), Mia Poste (Jr.), Olivia Fitzgerald (So.), Alexis Olmstead (So.), Mariah Ward (So.), Jenna Rogers (Fr.), Ashley York (Fr.), Jenna Dailey (Fr.), Brooke Durgan (Fr.).

Thousand Islands Vikings

Coach: Pete Pettit (15th year).

2011-12 record: 17-2 (14-1).

Players to watch: Kristin McGraw, Alesha Waterman.

Roster: Lindsay Barton (So.), Kerstin Phelps (Jr.), Alesha Waterman (Sr.), Allie Barton (Sr.), Kristin McGraw (Sr.), Erica Sullivan (Sr.), Ashley Howard (Jr.), Brianna Sposato (Jr.), Ashley Anchor (Jr.), Karly Sherman (Sr.).

“D” DIVISION

Outlook: This should be a competitive division, particularly among the three-team heap at the top. Alexandria, the defending playoff champion and co-regular season champion, should be in the mix again this year with the division's top scorer and Times All-North first-teamer, Lorraine Beard, returning for her junior season. Sackets Harbor, which split the regular-season crown with the Purple Ghosts, should be strong again despite the loss of leading scorer, Olivia Kolb. Copenhagen should also compete for the division behind returning all-stars, Logan Wheeler and Rachel Muncy, along with a stable of young players that should provide some depth... LaFargeville is a team to look out for, with one of the division's best players, Krysti Brow, back in the fold, along with fellow senior Lauren Labiendo. The team has a strong senior core with plenty of experience.

Alexandria Purple Ghosts

Coach: Dave Hollis (14th year).

2011-12 record: 14-5 (10-2).

Players to watch: Lorraine Beard, Rachael Calhoun.

Roster: Rachael Calhoun (Sr.), Kayla Utterback (Sr.), Alicia Constance (Sr.), Anna Simpson (Sr.), Gabby Slate (Sr.), Becca Hitchcock (Jr.), Lorraine Beard (Jr.), Nicole Pierce (Jr.), Sam Schnell (Jr.), Hannah Lynch (So.), Emma Kearns (Fr.), Morgan Weaver (Fr.).

Copenhagen Golden Knights

Coach: Natalie Scott (9th year).

2011-12 record: 10-10 (7-5).

Players to watch: Rachel Muncy, Logan Wheeler.

Roster: Cassidy O'Donnell (Sr.), Logan Wheeler (Sr.), Rachel Muncy (Sr.), Elizabeth Martin (Sr.), Erika Eddy (Sr.), Alicia Evans (Jr.), Miranda Allen (Jr.), Brianna Muncy (Jr.), Brooke Spaulding (So.), Maci Spaulding (8th).

LaFargeville Red Knights

Coach: Colin Mingle (7th year).

2011-12 record: 5-12 (4-9).

Players to watch: Krysti Brow, Lauren Labiendo.

Roster: Jackie Segouin (Sr.), Lauren Labiendo (Sr.), Krysti Brow (Sr.), Jarika Nuffer (Sr.), Jessica Wills (Sr.), Bre Nutting (Sr.), Kylie Sanford (Sr.), Mia Rhone (Jr.), Amber Klock (Jr.), Jenna Sharp (Jr.), Tanisha Ryan (Jr.), Alexis Gosier (Sr.).

Lyme Indians

Coach: Mark Wilson (2nd year).

2011-12 record: 0-14 (0-13).

Players to watch: Mikayla Warren, Amanda Goutremont.

Roster: Mikayla Warren (Sr.), Susan Cornell (Sr.), Rebekah Meister (Jr.), Yanna Ososkalo (Jr.), Amanda Goutremont (Jr.), Emily Ennis (So.), Enesa Ososkalo (So.), Taylor Brown (Fr.), Meghan Donaldson (Fr.), Alison Tarwater (Fr.).

Sackets Harbor Patriots

Coach: Gregg Townsend (3rd year).

2011-12 record: 12-8 (10-2).

Players to watch: Jordan Gonseth, Joan Cuddeback.

Roster: Joan Cuddeback (Sr.), Jordan Gonseth (Sr.), Caitlyn Graves (Sr.), Stephanie Heaslip (Sr.), Sarah Kall (Sr.), Nicole Menapace (Sr.), Samantha Menapace (So.), Taylor Queior (Jr.), Emily Schultes (Sr.), Alexandra Townsend (Jr.).

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