Blend of experience and youth leads Cambridge

CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. — For Cambridge Central School, most of the attention it has gotten over the past couple weeks has been centered around its football program which became the first team in Section II history to win back-to-back state championships.

While the football team was on its historic run, winter sports started, teams quietly working on their craft in preparation for the upcoming season.

The girls basketball team was one of those four teams revving up for its season and despite having a losing record last year, there is a major sense of optimism heading into the 2017-18 campaign.

The Indians finished last season at 8-14, going 4-12 in the Wasaren League, but Cambridge returns pretty much every contributor from last season's squad. Last season's top scorer center Helen Mooney returns down low, along with other seniors like guard Grace Snyder, forward Victoria Dupuis, guard Bridey Nolan and forward Hailey Herrington. Of that group, all but one scored more than 100 points last season. Mooney led the team with 248.

Having a veteran group back who has played together for many years will be a major advantage for the Indians this season.

"With our seniors, most of them have at least three years of varsity experience," said Cambridge coach Tony Bochette, who is also an assistant coach with the football team. "They've been through the gauntlet of the Wasaren League. They understand what it takes to get better and they're doing a great job leading by example. It's nice to have those girls be like 'hey listen, this is how things are gonna happen in the game.' The basketball IQ has been incredible."

For a group that has played together for so long, it's important that they end their Indians' careers on a positive note.

"It would be really nice, especially this final year, to have a great end to it," Mooney said. "This has meant so much to us for so long. The same group of girls has been together. It would be awesome winning and doing it with these girls."

The seniors aren't the only ones expected to play a major role for Cambridge this season. The Indians also have some freshmen on the varsity roster that are skillful beyond their years. Chief among them is a pair of twins with silky smooth jumpers that are ready to set the Wasaren League on fire: the Phillips twins.

Sophie and Lilly Phillips have been playing basketball together their entire lives. Sophie, in particular, has had national recognition for her shooting ability, winning the Elks Hoop Shoot at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., and the national championship of the Hoop Shoot in Chicago. The pair also has played in the Empire State Takeover summer league with their team the Next Big Thing. That squad also includes Hoosick Falls sophomore Logan Thayne.

Bochette knows how lucky he is to have a pair of players whose basketball knowledge far eclipses their age.

"They live, breathe, eat, sleep, dream basketball," Bochette said. "Because of that, there's not that gap in IQ that a freshman has coming up to a varsity team. They provide so much versatility in terms of handling the ball, as far as playing the wing, as far as playing the post. They bring a quiet confidence. As a freshman, it's incredible to see the confidence they have."

With most of Cambridge's major contributors being either seniors or freshman, it brings an interesting dynamic of old guard-new guard to the team.

Mooney has seen the two groups mesh effortlessly so far.

"There's been one group of us that has played together for so long and another group, so it's kind of like mashing two groups together," Mooney said. "It might be hard in some situations, but I think it works really well for us. I think we all appreciate and respect each other. We're gonna have a really fun year mixing those two styles and I think it'll be really great."

The Indians get their season started next Wednesday when they take on the Panthers on the road. Hoosick Falls won the contest both times the two teams met last season. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 in Hoosick Falls.

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


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