After one sprint everyone could tell things were going to be different this season for the Newbury women's basketball program. As the squeak of their sneakers echoed throughout Pappas Gymnasium, it wasn't Coach Taney who demanded more intensity, it was his players.
"As a staff, we could feel the excitement of a new roster, new energy, and improved level of play immediately during the first practice, " stated Taney. "Clearly, our upperclassman leadership had done a great job preparing the program for the first day."
For second-year head coach Marc Taney, who led the Nighthawks to an 8-18 record and an NECC quarterfinals appearance in his first season in charge, the change was needed. Taney inherited a young core upon his arrival to Fisher Ave, centered around two cornerstone pieces. However, he knew in order to compete for the coveted NECC crown, a culture overhaul and influx of talent was needed.
The Nighthawks return 2016-17 All-NECC First Team performers, senior Destiny Spears (Arnold, MD) and Savannah Olsen (Battle Creek, MI). Spears averaged 18.5 points during her junior campaign while collecting 11.6 rebounds per game and dishing out 3.3 assists per contest. Olsen, now a junior, was the 2015-16 NECC Rookie of the Year and is coming off a 2016-17 season where she averaged 17.2 points per game to go along with 10.9 rebounds.
In addition to Spears, Olsen and fellow returners Kristen Connors (Wilmington, MA), Taylor Kelly (North Billerica, MA) and Allison Kelly (Dorchester, MA) Taney introduced six new members to the women's basketball program.
"We've got an exciting class of this year, from all over the United States," said assistant coach Ryan Walsh. 'Each one brings their own unique talents to the program and will be looked upon to put in great effort and contribute when the ball goes up. It is going to be a fun year for our basketball program!"
The 2017 recruiting class includes five first-year players and one transfer, junior Tylar Barbato. Barbato, originally from Hillside, New York, returners to Newbury where she spent her freshman year after playing last season at SUNY-Canton.
Joining Barbato are newcomers Jaymesha Sanders (West Haven, CT), Precious Montgomery (Bridgeport, CT), Asia Harvey (Columbia, MS), Tatianna Occena (Spring Valley, NY) and Timesha Walker (Washington, DC).
The Nighthawks open up their 2017-18 slate on Wednesday, November 15th when they travel to Mount Ida College for a 6:00 p.m. tip-off. Newbury will square off against New England College on Tuesday, November 21st in their home opener while Taney's crew begins New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) play on Saturday, December 2nd when they host the Southern Vermont College Mountaineers.