Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By Mike Lowe firstname.lastname@example.org
PORTLAND - It's often said that a team has taken on the personality of its coach.
Sadie DiPierro epitomizes an unselfish McAuley team that has looked sharp passing and hopes for another strong game today in the state final against Cony, also an undefeated team.
2011 file/Gordon Chibroski
Olivia Smith, a 6-foot-2 center for McAuley, will be part of a tall front line – the Lions regularly use three other players who are 5-11 or taller – that may make a difference today against Cony, whose tallest player is 5-11. They will meet in the Class A state final.
John Ewing/Staff Photographer
CLASS A GIRLS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
WHO: McAuley (21-0) vs. Cony (21-0)
WHEN: 4 p.m. today
WHERE: Cumberland County Civic CenterMcAULEY STARTERS
Alexa Coulombe, F (11.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.3 apg)
Sadie DiPierro, G (4.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.2 spg)
Allie Clement, G (12.9 ppg, 2.5 apg, 3.2 spg)
Olivia Smith, C (10.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.1 apg)
Jaclyn Welch, G (2.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.0 apg).
KEYS FOR McAULEY
Get back on defense. Cony gets out quick and has shooters. The Lions, one of the top defensive teams in the SMAA, can't afford to give up quick baskets or uncontested shots. The Lions also have to use their size, although that doesn't necessarily mean get everything inside. McAuley's tall players -- 6-2 Coulombe, 6-2 Smith, 6-0 Victoria Lux and 5-11 Molly Mack -- can all handle the ball and play on the perimeter if needed. That opens up a whole lot of options. McAuley can run with any team so look for the Lions to get on the break, too. If the Lions continue their unselfish play, they will put up a lot of points.
Mia Diplock, G (16.2 ppg, 4.9 apg, 4.1 spg)
Josie Lee, G (12.4 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 4.7 apg)
Melanie Guzman, F (8.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg)
Emily Sanford, G (5.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.4 spg)
Bethany Elwell, G (2.2 ppg).
KEYS FOR CONY
First and foremost, rebound. The Rams, whose tallest player is the 5-11 Guzman, are at a big height disadvantage against the Lions, who regularly play three players over 6 feet. Cony cannot allow the Lions to get multiple shots or control the defensive boards. The Rams also have to limit their turnovers, especially against McAuley's press, and work the ball for good shots. They cannot have many empty possessions. The Rams will have to use their athleticism to push the Lions, keeping the game at a fast pace and trying to get easy baskets.
- Mike Lowe
Well, for the McAuley High girls' basketball team, it's the personality of senior guard and co-captain Sadie DiPierro.
She doesn't lead the team in any category -- in fact, she's fifth in scoring with just 4.3 points per game -- but more than anyone, DiPierro sets the tone for the Lions, who take a 21-0 record into today's Class A state championship game against also-undefeated Cony at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
When you watch the Lions, you see the same defensive intensity and unselfish offensive play that mark DiPierro as a player.
"Her heart and determination set her apart from a lot of people," said Allie Clement, the sophomore point guard who leads McAuley with 12.9 points per game. "A lot of people probably had the talent (to do what DiPierro does defensively) but just don't have it in their heart to do it.
"She's such an amazing person and we wouldn't be half as far as we are without her."
Senior center and co-captain Alexa Coulombe, a teammate of DiPierro's since their freshman year, said DiPierro doesn't get "half the credit she deserves. She definitely symbolizes our team, what we go after."
DiPierro deflects the praise, saying she's simply doing what she can to contribute.
"I think all four years I've kind of been known for defense, that's my big role," she said. "But I also don't care about stats and I think it's important to teach everyone that, especially the younger girls, that scoring isn't everything. You can still play and not score."
She teaches them by playing hard in practice, even in summer league games where Bill Goodman, the coach of the Lions, said she was diving all over the floor for loose balls.
"I've never seen her take any time off," he said. "You know how some kids you've got to keep pushing them to play harder? With Sadie it's almost the opposite, that you have to tell her to take it a little easy.
"It's been a real treat to coach her. She brings a little attitude to our team and she brings it every day. Our younger kids are watching her and they get it. They see her work so they do, too."
It's not just the younger players who learn from her.
Coulombe said DiPierro taught her a very valuable lesson that will help her continue her playing career at Boston College.
"I've learned that you don't give up on a play from her," said Coulombe. "Any time, in any game, you can hustle. She's taught me to give it my all every time I'm on the court."
DiPierro, who will continue playing at the University of New England next year, said the lessons go both ways. She called Coulombe "the smartest player I've ever played with" and that "she's taught me a lot about how I play. She doesn't care about scoring either; that's how a lot of people are on our team."
And that attitude has carried the Lions far.
In the regional championship game against Scarborough, McAuley's players put on a passing clinic: giving up open looks for easier shots, flipping no-look passes that drew the defense one way while the ball went the other, moving the ball on the perimeter until someone got open.
"We've got to continue to do that against Cony," said Goodman. "Offensively we've moved the ball pretty well the last couple of weeks."
That's the key for the Lions, to continue to play as they have all year. Everyone on the team has bought into the system, where winning and improving are more important than stats. Just ask DiPierro, whose work over the last four years has been impressive, even if her stats haven't been.
"As long as the team is winning, I'm fine with it," she said. "As long as we're winning and everyone else is having a good game, I'm fine with that."
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: