There are four games left in the regular season for the Hollis Brookline High School girls basketball team, but making it through those four games undefeated isn’t the best thing that could happen to the Cavaliers.
Heading into the last two weeks, HB sits atop Division II with a 14-0 record, but coach Bob Murphy would rather see his team get to the postseason with a full lineup intact than the perfect record.
“I want to make sure we’re healthy first,” Murphy said following last Wednesday’s 47-18 win over Hanover. “If we’re healthy, we’re dangerous. If we lose a key kid, it will be like last year.”
A year ago, the Cavs, who were already down an injured starter from earlier in the season, had been cruising toward the postseason when guard Kelsey Berry injured an ankle in the final game of the regular season., HB finished with the fifth seed in the tournament, but was upset in the first round by John Stark.
This season, the Cavs have been hit hard with various injuries, but because of a weaker schedule in the second half of the season, they’ve been able to stay afloat.
Since a six-game stretch that included games against Portsmouth, Souhegan, Windham and Bedford, the Cavs’ last four games have been against teams that are a combined 19-48. The schedule remains light for the next three, with Con-Val (2-12), Manchester West (1-14) and Goffstown (8-6) up this week. HB finishes the season hosting Souhegan (10-4) on Feb. 21.
“One way, it’s good because you’re going to go through it and end up healthy,” Murphy said. “It will be nice to have a good test at the end and we have at least one. I’m glad that we’re going to finish with Souhegan. I don’t care what their record is, or that we’ve already beaten them, they’re a tough team.”
As for going undefeated, it’s not something the players are talking about anymore.
“We’re not talking about 14-0 or 15-0,” Murphy said. “We’re not doing that. We were when we were 6-0 or 7-0. All of a sudden we’re saying let’s see what we can do, let’s get in the best situation we can. Get into the playoffs being as healthy as we can and playing our best basketball.”
Murphy added that the goal for now is reaching the semifinals, which the program has never done before. Two years ago, the Cavs hosted a quarterfinal game, but were knocked off by St. Thomas. Four of this year’s starters – Berry, Katie Stopera and Olivia and Jill Gillis – were members of that team.
The Cavs also have four players, including Berry, who were a part of the HB volleyball team’s championship run in the fall, and Murphy things that experience has helped prepare the Cavs for the run they’re on now.
“I think some of that’s rubbing off,” he said. “They’re not talking about going undefeated. They’re looking at what’s really important is getting into the playoffs and taking care of business from there.
“The attitude of the kids is great. I’m not having any problems motivating anybody. They come out on the floor and they’ve started the game before it starts.”
HB will play three games on the road this week, starting with Monday’s game at Con-Val. The Cavs will also play at West on Wednesday and at Goffstown on Friday before hosting Souhegan next Tuesday.