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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

KP Girls Hoop Squad Should Have a Bright Future

The King Philip girls basketball captains are, from left, Jaq Bonner, Emily Sawyer, and Leah Santoro.

By Ken Hamwey
Staff Sports Writer
The King Philip girls basketball team wasn’t noted for success or stability in the past but that’s all starting to change now — thanks to second-year coach Jeff Miszkiewicz.
When he took the job last year, he was the program’s third head coach in four years. But when the season ended, the Warriors were 10-10 and on their way to the state tourney where they split a pair of games before their elimination.

 Jeff Miszkiewicz is beginning his second year as the King Philip girls basketball coach.

The 32-year-old Miszkiewicz will be the first to deflect praise to his players but his approach and his style are key ingredients why the Warriors’ goals this season have a more lofty flavor.
“Besides improving every day, we want to compete for the Kelley-Rex Division title and go on a playoff run,’’ said Miszkiewicz, who previously coached the girls junior-varsity team at LaSalle Academy in Providence, R.I. “Last year, our players peaked towards the end of the season and we were playing our best basketball as the playoffs approached. I’m comfortable in this program — the parents are supportive, the athletic director (Gary Brown) is very helpful and the players are coachable. I enjoy building a program and I hope to be at KP for a long time.’’
Now that Miszkiewicz’ rookie year at the helm is in the history books, it’s obvious that last year’s results put to rest any talk about the KP girls still having to undergo a major transition. “The transition for me and the girls was smooth and that’s now in our rear-view mirrors,’’ Miszkiewicz offered. “I try to improve as a coach every day and I ask the players to do the same.’’
The 2022-23 squad, which opens its season at home against Stoughton on Dec. 13, should be able to build on last year’s .500 regular season, primarily because of its strengths.
“Our basketball IQs are improving,’’ Miszkiewicz said. “We’ve made big strides in that area. We’ve got some very good athletic players, our team chemistry is a plus, and we’ve got size and speed. We’re building depth and our experience is good. Our girls gained valuable experience in the playoffs last year and our captains are experienced players.’’
The senior captains are center Emily Sawyer, and combo guards Jaq Bonner and Leah Santoro.
“Emily leads by example and she’s supportive of her teammates,’’ Miszkiewicz said. “She’s 6-foot-3, has a high basketball IQ, a strong work ethic and has improved her game over last year. She’s a good shooter and an outstanding rebounder. She averaged 10 points, 11 rebounds and one block last year. A Hockomock League all-star, she’s committed to play volleyball next year at Sacred Heart College in Connecticut.
“Jaq also was chosen as a Hockomock all-star. She’s energetic, a very vocal leader. A playmaker on offense, she can dribble, drive, shoot and pass. Our best offensive player, she can hit a three or score on a lay-up. She averaged 9 points, 2 assists and 2 three-pointers a game last year. Leah is our best on-ball defender. She’s tenacious, energetic and has a high basketball IQ, always in the right spot.’’
Three juniors who got considerable playing time last year are center-forward Maddie Paschke, off-guard Kylie Watson, and combo guard Jordan Bennett.
“Maddie has a high hoop IQ,’’ Miszkiewicz said. “At 6-1, she’s comfortable as a post player, is a dependable rebounder and can finish a play even through contact. Kylie averaged eight points down the stretch last year. She can shoot a two or a three, is coachable and has a strong work ethic. She’s added skills, both on offense and defense. Jordan is our most athletic player. A 90 percent free-throw shooter, she’s quick and fast. As a sophomore last year, she made some clutch plays.’’
Four juniors eager to get playing time are guard/forwards Kaelyn Clancy and Lilli Hickey, center/forward Vikki Cosmo, and forward Taylor Regan.
“Kaelyn is energetic and mentally tough,’’ Miszkiewicz said. “Lilli is a quality teammate and a good shooter, Vikki is positive and athletic, and Taylor is athletic and versatile, able to play a variety of positions.’’
“Both the girls and myself know our goals are achievable,’’ Miszkiewicz said. “We’re all on the same page. Our style will feature half-court offense and defense. We’ll strive to drive and pass on offense to get the ball into the paint. On defense, we’ll work to make our opponents’ job difficult and we’ll press when necessary.’’
KP’s staff of assistants includes Brett Coderre (jayvee coach/varsity aide), freshman coach Dom Sergio, and varsity aides Chris Wilson, Justin Feinberg, and Ellen Wagner. “All of us strive to be teachers of the game,’’ Miszkiewicz said. “We emphasize basics and our drills are game-based.’’
Miszkiewicz is acutely aware of the high caliber of play in the Hockomock League. “From top to bottom, it’s the most competitive league in the state,’’ he said. “The teams are talented and the coaching is top-notch.’’
A former combo guard at Cumberland High School in Rhode Island, Miszkiewicz graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2013, getting his degree in English and Secondary Education. He also has a master’s in English from Arizona State. After a year of teaching at the middle school level in Central Falls, he joined the faculty at LaSalle Academy where he’s taught English for the last nine years.
A quality coach is a teacher first and Miszkiewicz displays that aspect when he’s defining his competitive philosophy. “I want our players to have a positive experience,’’ he emphasized. “And, I want them to improve and reach their potential. When those two things are occurring, then winning will follow.’’
As far as basketball helping his players learn valuable life lessons, Miszkiewicz lists three. “Sports should help players develop positive relationships,’’ he noted. “And, athletics can help players become good leaders and good teammates. It’s a place where they can use their voices effectively.’’
After a year of Miszkiewicz guiding KP’s program, the girls have displayed an ability to adapt and adjust. Their record was commendable last year and now their future seems bright.
Very bright.