Indians' hot start predicated on all-around play

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CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. — What a difference a year has made for the Cambridge girls basketball team.

Last season, the Indians went through an up-and-down season, finishing 8-14, a season with a few more downs then ups

Fast forward almost 365 days and the Indians are just two wins away from matching last year's win total.

What's even more impressive about that fact is that it's not even Christmas yet.

Cambridge sits undefeated at 6-0 and at No. 7 in the Class C state rankings. They appear to be one of the teams to beat in the Wasaren League.

Indians coach Tony Bochette credits his team's work ethic and the basketball IQ they possess.

"They really play and practice with a purpose every day. I attribute a lot of it basketball IQ," Bochette said. "These girls play so much basketball that we can make an adjustment on the fly with no problem. My little, white, dry-erase board hasn't been used too much this year because I can say what I need and they pick it up."

A major reason for Cambridge's early season success has been a pair of twins that figure to give Wasaren League teams nightmares over the next few years: the Phillips twins.

The freshman have shown they can play well beyond their years and have taken on the role as the team's offensive leaders. Sophie Phillips leads the team with 15.8 points per game, while Lilly Phillips is consistently scoring in double figures as well, averaging nearly 12.5 points per game.

The pair has a quiet confidence that Bochette believes helps them shine for the Indians.

"You'd think freshman coming in aren't necessarily going to have that large of an impact, but because the amount of basketball they play and the amount of knowledge they have for the game, they lead without having to be vocal," said Bochette of the twins. "They're leaders by doing what they're supposed to do. It's garnered them a lot of respect with their teammates because they know the Phillips girls are going to do what they're supposed to. If they're in the right spot, they're going to get rewarded for it with the Phillips girls leading our offense."

Around the Phillips twins, and fellow freshman Fiona Mooney, the rest of the squad is predominantly a senior-heavy group. Five of Cambridge's 10 players are seniors, with a pair of juniors on the team as well.

A major question coming into the season was how these two groups would mesh. You have one group that has played together their whole life and another that has done the same. How do the two coexist?

The short answer: easily.

"I'm very happy with the way they're playing together. I think that team basketball has been pretty on point," said Bochette of how the groups have meshed. "They're not missing a beat. No matter who's on the court, we're able to play team basketball, make those extra passes, play good solid team defense and continue what we need to do. Whether we've got three freshman on the court or all five seniors, it's really been great. It's been a real cohesive group all the way through."

The Indians are averaging more than 61 points per game and have allowed less than 28 points per game. They're outscoring opponents by over 30 points per game, which is an astonishing number for any basketball team, no matter what the level.

It's tough to find a fault with this Cambridge squad. They score at will and they stop the opposing team at will. What more can a coach ask for?

The Wasaren League is known to be tough, so the Indians will need to remain at the top of their game to compete with tough squads like Tamarac, whMechanicville and Hoosic Valley, among others. Tamarac is ranked in third in Class B.

Mechanicville's Sammy Pasinella, Tamarac's Emily Erickson and Greenwich's Molly Brophy figure to be tough matchups for any girl in the league and the Indians know they'll need to be ready for that.

But with the way they have played thus far, their confidence level remains high.

"The Wasaren League is a grind. Almost every game you know it's going to be tough game no matter what," Bochette said. "I think these few games have shown us that we can score and we can do things defensively to help us score. In the past, that's been our issue. We'd been great athletes and good defenders, but scoring had come at a premium. Now I think we have the ability to do more scoring."

Bochette also pointed to the important factor that playing in the tournament at Delaware Academy a few weeks ago did for his team. Facing tough opponents like Cooperstown and Delhi provided a major test for Cambridge early in the season.

Whatever happens from here, one thing is for certain, this Indians team is going to be fun to watch for years to come.

Cambridge will be back in action after the holiday break as they take on Berne Knox Westerlo on January 3. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. at home.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter


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