By midway through the season, Pinkerton Academy of Derry girls’ basketball coach Lani Buskey knew what she could expect from senior Brooke Kane each game: at least 20 points and probably a double-double.
“In six or seven games, she got a double-double and in eight other games, she was one rebound shy,” Buskey said. “And besides Maddie Mahoney, she was our leading assist giver so she was creating opportunities in addition to being our best scorer.”
Kane, a Derry resident, led Pinkerton in scoring in each game during its 7-0 February run to end the Division I regular season, only once finishing with fewer than 20 points.
For her efforts throughout those final seven regular-season games, Kane was chosen as the February Apple Therapy Services/Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center/Express MED Athlete of the Month by the New Hampshire Union Leader Board of Judges.
Kane, who will continue her career at the University of New Hampshire, logged at least 14 points in each of Pinkerton’s February contests. The 6-foot guard opened the month with a 23-point outing in the Astros’ 61-44 in over archrival Londonderry on Feb. 1. Four days later, Kane dropped in a month-high 32 points in a 58-38 triumph over Windham.
“I just remember thinking toward the end of the game I must’ve scored a lot,” Kane said of the Windham contest. “I didn’t realize it at first. I just think as a team we played pretty well that game, moved the ball a lot and the defense left a lot of openings so I think that’s where that came from.”
Pinkerton’s next two contests were arguably its toughest of the month: a 58-50 victory over Manchester Memorial and a 55-45 triumph over Bedford. Both wins required a Kane-led comeback effort.
Memorial led, 48-32, midway through the third quarter before the Astros ended the game on a 26-2 run. Kane, a co-captain, scored 16 of her game-high 28 points in the second half.
Bedford had a seven-point lead on the Astros early in the third quarter before the latter found their stride by way of a 20-3 run over a nine-minute stretch in the second half. Kane, the Division I and Gatorade New Hampshire Player of the Year, logged a game-high 20 points alongside seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the comeback win.
“Brooke is so good at basketball that Brooke can just decide when she wants to take over a game,” Buskey said. “Her talent and IQ is just at that level. In both games, she got the comeback going for us.”
Memorial coach Greg Cotreau shared a similar assessment of Kane after his team’s loss to the Astros.
“We had them down but not out,” Cotreau said. “Brooke was going to come in and take the game over.”
Kane attributes her play during high-pressure situations like Pinkerton found itself in against Memorial and Bedford to her competitiveness.
“I don’t think I would try to take over games on my own but when we were down or we really needed points, I just competed and wanted to get us up,” Kane said.
While Kane played a vital role in Pinkerton’s offense, she also developed her defensive and rebounding game this year, Buskey said. Oftentimes, Buskey asked Kane to guard and shut down the opposition’s best player.
When Kane wasn’t leading the Astros during games, she and her fellow co-captain Mahoney served as leaders during practices and in the locker room.
“It’s definitely fun to be in a leadership position,” Kane said. “I didn’t always think of myself like that but it was fun to be able to lead the team by example and be a senior captain with my best friend and someone I’ve played with my whole life.”
Kane did more than impact her teammates. She also had a positive effect on her coach.
“She has without a doubt made me a better coach and I hope I made her a little bit better as a player,” Buskey said. “I think I did. I hope I taught her confidence and I think she’ll take that and go.
“Any high school coach would be foolish to say they weren’t happy to have Brooke Kane for four years.”
Other athletes considered for the February award were Pembroke Academy boys’ basketball player Noah Cummings, Epping High School boys’ basketball player Hunter Bullock, Plymouth State University men’s basketball player Jalen LeRoy, Colby-Sawyer College men’s basketball player Dana Bean, University of New Hampshire women’s hockey player Taylor Wenczkowski, Exeter High School girls’ hockey player Carissa Towlson and Keene State College swimmer Kristyn Simoneau.
Cummings, a senior and the Division II Player of the Year, averaged 22.5 points, seven rebounds and four assists over a 7-0 February campaign for the Spartans. Bullock, a senior and the Division IV Player of the Year, averaged 25.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game over a 7-0 month for the Blue Devils that included a D-IV quarterfinal win.
LeRoy, a junior from Manchester, averaged 18 points and 4.4 rebounds per game over a 2-3 end to the season for the Panthers that included a Little East Conference first-round loss to UMass Dartmouth. Bean, a junior from Franklin, logged a team-high 20.7 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game and shot 64.6 percent from the field over a 2-3 February campaign for the Chargers, which included a Great Northeast Athletic Conference quarterfinal loss to Emmanuel.
Wenczkowski, a redshirt junior forward from Rochester, recorded nine points on seven goals (including two game-winners) and two assists over the Wildcats’ 2-3-2 run to end the regular season. Towlson, a senior and the girls’ hockey Player of the Year, recorded 26 points (19 goals, seven assists) over a 6-1 end to the Blue Hawks’ regular season.
Simoneau, a sophomore from Rindge, tallied three top-four individual finishes, helped the Owls’ 200 medley team take first place at the LEC Championships and was also part of the Owls’ 400 freestyle relay team that finished runner-up at the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association Championships.
Previous 2019 winner: January, Mike Robinson, Bedford (hockey).
To submit a nomination for future Athlete of the Month consideration, email the Union Leader Sports Department at email@example.com and enter “Athlete of the Month” in the subject line.
Athlete of the Month recipients are honored at the annual Leaders: A Celebration of Sports Champions event held in February.