NFA : State LL Champions 2001-2002
Norwich Free Academy started the season as the top-ranked girl's high-school team in the state. Despite having played in the state championship game for the last 3 years, it would be difficult to repeat against the large number of excellent LL teams in the state this season. NFA played as they always have... they pressured hard, ran hard, and gave 100% intensity. That style usually means they end up on the winning end of the score. This season it meant being on the winning end for every game except one out-of-state match-up with a nationally ranked power-team. They were undefeated in CT.
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Now, lets get on with the show...
Starters for NFA: Hannah Sheppard, Lauren Glenney, Courtney Gomez, Kristin Kropp, and Krista Rappahahn.
This is what makes this team go: a solid point guard (12)... and a special player(44).
Player of the year in the state of CT for this season. Krista Rappahahn always plays within the flow of the offense, but during close big games, she would show her leadership by looking for her shot more before passing. Even when doubled teamed, she would make the right play. And when teams fouled her, it was an automatic pair of swishes through the net.
Ye olde press. You can practice for it... but it's always much tougher to face it for real. NFA forces you to play perfect, error-free ball -- or you get burned... badly & often. Hartford-Bulkeley is finding this out the hard way here, in the state tourney. They hung around for a while in the early going, but were eventually tired and drowned by the constant crashing of the waves. [91-39]
More relentless defensive pressure, this time against Manchester. Courtney at the point.
After sitting on the bench all last season with an ACL injury, Lauren Glenney got to finish her senior year on the court, making this year's championship especially sweet.
Ashley Ferra missed some mid-season action with an injury, but provided solid senior leadership and quality minutes with her intense defense and solid offense.
Kristin Kropp... an All-State star softball player who's easy to pick out on the court with her flying ponytail and the simple "3" on her uniform... a number that she shares with 2 other very popular CT basketball players... (Kristin had it first though)
Courtney Gomez was thrown into the fire early in her freshman season. This year she returned with an improved outside shot and some added maturity... but just as much enthusiasm and intensity. The position of point guard is key -- you simply can't win consistently at any level of basketball without a solid point guard, regardless of the rest of a team's talent.
There aren't many players who get knocked down and bumped around as much as Hannah Sheppard. As a center, she's always in the middle of the action... always giving 100%... and always receiving the brunt of the elbows, shoves and trips.
You OK Hannah? really... no fooling around here...
Although the outcome of this game is well in hand, Coach Scarlata is giving it his full attention. It takes more than just good players to have a sucessful program like NFA's. It takes lot of good people assisting and helping out... and a dedicated coach to make it all run smoothly. Easier said than done... especially in today's sometimes crazy world of unrealistic expectations by many parents.
"Hey coach... what should we run here?"
Krista Rappahahn at the State Class-LL semi-finals vs Manchester. Just a great game by two of the very best teams in the state. Both teams had their tongues hanging out at the halftime break... a very intense game that wasn't over till the final minute. NFA sealed it shooting 13 of 14 from the foul line in the final 2:40. Manchester Coach John Reiser's assessment of NFA: "Holy cow, are they good". Well said coach.
Multi-talented athlete Ashley Ferra setting a solid pic for Krista in the State semi-final game. Basketball is pretty when it's executed with the discipline that NFA has.
A happy bunch after the Class LL title game over Trumbull. It's tough enough to win one State Title, but much tougher to repeat... especially after losing your All-State starting point guard from last season (Saona Chapman). Congratulations team... and coaches.
This is page 1 of 3 on the team.
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