Nagle Eager to Build on KP Girls Hoop ProgressNov 27, 2020 10:04AM ● By Ken Hamway
Dan Nagle, who’s now in his second year as the King Philip girls basketball coach, has been a winner at all three high school venues where he’s been handed the varsity reins. The 34-year-old coach compiled a 33-11 record in two seasons at Bellingham High and ended his tenure there with a berth in the State semifinals where the Blackhawk girls lost to Hoosac Valley in an intense back-and-forth battle. His second stop produced a two-year record of 34-14 at Worcester Academy and last year he guided the Warriors to a 12-8 regular-season mark before bowing in the Sectional tourney to Bishop Feehan. When the native of Norton decided to coach college women, he inherited a 0-25 team at Fitchburg State but managed to register a 9-16 record in his first campaign. The forward-thinking Nagle, who thrives on an up-tempo offense and relentless pressure on defense, is eager to start his second year at KP’s helm. And, with 10 returnees on his roster, he’ll have a solid opportunity to improve on his overall high-school record of 79-34. “KP’s had some coaching turnover in the girls program,” Nagle said, “but my first year was really good. There were no issues and the players and their parents were wonderful. We played uptempo and that style helped us because everyone was involved. We built a close-knit team and the chemistry was excellent.’’ Nagle is pleased there’ll be a winter season. That affirmation came from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). However, the Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association’s endorsement of winter sports had not been announced at Local Town Pages deadline. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the MIAA to eliminate all sports last spring and the governing body for school sports also modified many of the rules for fall sports squads. The MIAA’s winter modifications were not available at deadline, but if the agency reaffirms the EEA guidelines, changes likely will include wearing masks on the court and on the bench, social distancing, no post-game handshakes, crowd limits, no locker-room presence, and hand sanitizing at the scorers’ table. “Our players and coaches are glad we’ll be playing,’’ Nagle offered. “We’re prepared to adjust to whatever changes are required. We want to play basketball and we realize that any games will be better than no games.’’ Nagle, who works as the director of basketball operations at Mass. Premier Courts in Foxboro, has some specific goals at KP. “I want to build a program that’ll be competitive year in and year out,’’ he emphasized. “Competing hard will enable us to be in the mix for league, sectional and state championships. Also, it’s imperative that girls participate at the youth level and at the middle school. We want people in the three-town area (Wrentham, Norfolk and Plainville) to get excited about our squad and our style.’’ KP’s high-motor offense and tenacious defense were so prevalent that it produced some eyepopping statistics that energized the fan base. The Warriors’ 61 points per game were second in the Hockomock League last year and fourth in the state. The girls were solid on the defensive end too, averaging 15.7 steals and forcing 31 turnovers an outing. Three players who contributed to compiling those numbers are now seniors and they’re KP’s captains — guards Caroline Aaron, Courtney Keswick and Emma Glaser. “Caroline is tough on defense, leading our team in steals last year,’’ Nagle said. “She goes to the hoop well, gets some offensive rebounds, relies on a strong skill-set and is a good teammate. Courtney opened the season last year by getting 26 points in our opener but she got injured and missed eight games. She’s a great shooter, great teammate and great leader. Emma is a tough, no-nonsense player. She can get to the rim and she can shoot threes. A good all-around player, she’s a high-level athlete who’s fast, quick and has good hands.’’ Four juniors who saw considerable playing time as sophomores will be key elements in Nagle’s nucleus. They include guard-forward Liv Lafond, forward Grace Clyde, and guards Julia Marsten and Liz Molla. “Liv is an all-around player who led our team in rebounds,’’ Nagle said. “She’s athletic and can get to the hoop. Julia is a good passer who gets assists, and she’s a quality defender. Grace is athletic and tough on the boards while Liz is a good shooter and defender who’s fast and athletic. All of them are hard-working.’’ Sophomore Emily Sawyer, a 6-foot-3 center, will be counted on for her interior defense. “Emily moves well and has good hands,’’ Nagle said. “Improved over last year, we look for her to contribute as a shot-blocker, rebounder and scorer.’’ Other returnees are senior Summer Dow and sophomore Jackie Bonner. “Summer can shoot and she’ll contribute from behind the three-point line,’’ Nagle said. “Jackie is a promising player who’ll help with her shooting and her ability to get assists and steals.’’ When assembling a roster, Nagle aims to add players who basically are quality teammates. “I want kids who are coachable and easy to work with,’’ he said. “Having a high basketball IQ is also important and that means having players who understand the game and apply their talents. Players who are athletic and technically sound are a plus and girls who have leadership ability are an asset.’’ During his high school days at Norton High, Nagle played guard in basketball and midfield in soccer. A two-time captain in basketball, he finished his threeyear career with 974 points. At Emmanuel College, he played two years of basketball and four years of soccer. Nagle majored in history at Emmanuel and he has a master’s degree from Northeastern University in sports management. Nagle, who also coached Norton High’s boys jayvee squad and assisted the women’s team at UMass-Boston, rates Franklin as the team to beat in the Kelly-Rex Division. “Franklin went 26-0 last year and finished as co-State champs,’’ he noted. “They’re tall and talented. Attleboro was a tourney team last year, Taunton is improving and Mansfield has some experience. We’ll be competitive and in the mix. There won’t be Sectional or State tourneys but I hope we have a league playoff at the end of our season. The kids should have something to play for.’’ Nagle knows what it’s like to focus on a big prize. When the regular season ended at Bellingham in his second year on the job, his team won a Sectional crown, then traveled to the MassMutual Center in Springfield for the State semifinals. And, they came close to advancing to the championship game. Dan Nagle was 28 then and he learned early on what ingredients are needed for succes"