The Roads to Durham, Plymouth and Manchester - where basketball champions are crowned - are busy throughout the Granite State tonight.
Fifty-four NHIAA varsity games will be played on the first big Friday night of the season. Several coaches are making their varsity debut on the bench, including Cassie Turcotte at Winnacunnet of Hampton. Turcotte took over for Ed Beattie, who stepped down after winning 519 games and seven titles through 32 seasons with the Warriors.
Turcotte has been an integral part of the coaching staff for the past 11 seasons, coaching the junior varsity team and conducting practice alongside Beattie. The Warriors host Londonderry tonight at 7.
"Taking over the program has been a pretty easy step for me because I've been part of it for so long," Turcotte said. "The girls know me. I know them. That part has been an easy transition. What hasn't been easy is not having the wealth of information that comes from coach Beattie's head. I miss having that at my fingertips."
The Warriors, who have won five of the past six championships, begin the Turcotte era in rebuilding mode. Senior Carly Gould and junior Mimi MacLeod are the only returning starters.
Londonderry returns with all-everything junior guard Aliza Simpson, who led the Lancers to last season's runner-up finish. Bishop Guertin of Nashua beat Londonderry in the final, 46-43, played at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. BG opens next Tuesday at home against Salem.
In Manchester, former Trinity High assistant Matt Courchesne is the new varsity girls' coach. Maureen LaRoche, a coach in the New England Crusaders AAU program, takes over at Manchester Memorial.
Trinity opens tonight at Timberlane of Plaistow, while Memorial opens Tuesday at home against Alvirne of Hudson.
Mario Pena takes over at Manchester West, which opens Division II play tonight against Kingswood of Wolfeboro.