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'High expectations': Diman girls basketball exceeds all goals and more this winter season

Steven Sanchez
The Herald News

Bristol-Plymouth's Laisha Alves dribbles past Diman’s Elizabeth Kinnane.

Diman's head coach Shane Doyle watches as his team takes on Bristol-Plymouth.

Diman's Elizabeth Kinnane dribbles while being guarded Bristol-Plymouth’s Laisha Alves.

Bristol-Plymouth's Laisha Alves and Diman’s Cindy Bui battle for the ball.

Diman's Elizabeth Kinnane takes a shot past Bristol-Plymouth’s Christele Derogene.

Bristol-Plymouth's Marielle Albon and Diman’s Hannah Martin battle for control of the ball.

Diman's Jayda Martino takes a shot past Bristol-Plymouth’s Nicole Widegren.

FALL RIVER — The Diman girls basketball team is small in size, but tough in stature around the Mayflower Athletic Conference Large Division.

That's how Bengals head coach Shane Doyle said they have to be heading into the playoffs.

"They have to be active," he said. "It is the only way we're going to survive on the court. We have to keep moving and being aggressive. If we don't, then we're in trouble."

Diman has exceeded everyone's expectations in 2022-23, including its head coach. The Bengals (12-3) had a season-best, eight-game winning streak and were winners of 10 out of their last 11 games before Thursday's road matchup with Case.

"This team never quits," Doyle said. "They always fight until the end."

The Bengals checked off several goals they had in the preseason, including clinching a playoff berth for the second straight year and winning the MAC Large title for the second straight season.

Last year, Diman finished a record of 10-9.

"I think this year's team has to work harder to achieve the things that it has achieved so far," Doyle said. "I think last year's team came a little bit easier. So the fact they're living up to last year's team or even exceeding it takes a lot more effort."

Stepping up their game

Diman lost Herald News All-Scholastic Emma Medeiros to graduation last spring so someone needed to step up offensively for the Bengals.

Diman's answer to that is its version of the Big 3: Avery Rounds, Hannah Martin, and Elizabeth Kinnane. Rounds, Martin, and Kinnane are among the team leaders in points, averages, steals, assists, and rebounds.

"Avery is playing much better defense this year, finally moving her feet," Doyle said. "She used to get into foul trouble a lot last year. But she can play the whole game. Her shooting and she's strong to the hoop with her drives. It has been impressive thus far."

Rounds said that team chemistry is the reason for success.

"We're very consistent and we pass the ball very well," Rounds said. "We connect very well and try to communicate the best we can. We try to be one as a team instead of individuals. We try hard to box out, considering how small we are."

The team also consists of junior Cindy Bui and sophomores Evey Fernandes and Jayda Martino, who are hard-working underclassmen.

Martin, a senior, said the team has to work hard to get where they want to be.

"Good chemistry is what makes a team who they are," Martin said. "If a team has rocky chemistry, then they might not do well. I think our chemistry will guide us into the playoffs and beyond."

Kinnane agreed.

"Hopefully," she smiled.

Rounds also commended the coaches for the success of the team.

"I love the coaches, and they're very positive," she said. "They try and make us the best players we can be on and off the court. They always want us to have a positive mindset no matter where we are losing or winning."

Down the home stretch

With the regular season near its conclusion, the Bengals look to advance further than last season's early exit from the state tournament. Currently, Diman is ranked 32nd in the power rankings in Division III.

"Defense has been the key during our win streak," Doyle said. "We have to score in transition and play solid defense. We have to work hard every game. If we don't do that, we don't win."

"I think we are more connected, especially since we don't have to wear a mask," she said. "We can do more in practice and more girls to work with each practice. It is a lot easier."

The mentality of the Bengals now is one game at a time.

Rounds said this year is different than last season.

Diman's Avery Rounds attempts a shot against Bristol-Plymouth.

Diman's Hannah Martin takes a shot past Bristol-Plymouth’s Gianna Viola.

Bristol-Plymouth's Emma Ericson dribbles while being guarded by Diman’s Cindy Bui.

Diman's Avery Rounds attempts a shot against Bristol-Plymouth.