After a season filled with accomplishment, memories and milestones, three members of the Keene State College Women’s basketball program received Little East Conference Awards. Head Coach, Keith Boucher was named LEC Coach of the Year, senior point guard, Kelsey Cognetta was named First Team All-Conference and junior, Stephanie D’Annolfo was named Defensive Player of the Year. Cognetta ended her 2016 season averaging nearly ten points and three assists per game with a 31.9 shooting percentage from the three point line, while D’Annolfo averaged 10.5 points per game and nearly seven rebounds. “It was nice to end the season and my career with something like that,” Cognetta said. When she heard the news, D’Annolfo said she was extremely excited because earning DefensivePlayer of the Year honors was a goal she had set for herself before the season began.

“Personally I was pumped,” D’Annolfo said. “I set that goal because I made the all-defensive team last year…when I heard it I was trying to hold in my excitement.” When asked what helped each of them succeed in earning LEC honors, Cognetta said preparation and their team environment had a great influence. “I think it has a lot to do with the way our practices went and our team dynamic,” Cognetta said. “We pushed each other every single day in practice and everybody worked really hard.”

The 2016 season will always be a memorable one for the KSC women’s basketball program, as the Owls ended their season with more wins than any other women’s basketball team in school history with a record of 24-5. The Owls also earned Coach Boucher his 400th win on their way to winning the ECAC Championship against Western New England.

Both Cognetta and D’Annolfo said Coach Boucher was like a father figure to them and that he has been a major part of their success.

“He’s like a second father to me,” D’Annolfo said. “The school is our home away from home so it’s like he’s our father away from home.”

D’Annolfo added that Boucher has not only made them better basketball players but also, “spends a lot of time making sure we’re better people,” and when, “times are hard, he’s the one we go to.”

As a senior nearing graduation, Cognetta said one thing she will never forget and carry with her when she departs from KSC is Boucher’s “Thought of the Day.” The “Thought of the Day” was a part of the team’s daily routine where Boucher would share words of wisdom to the team for the players to keep with them in the back of their minds. The “Thought of the Day” always had a theme of “working hard and giving it your all,” Cognetta said.

“Now that it’s over I’m thinking that I can do that in other places too.” After hearing word that he had won LEC Coach of the Year, Boucher said that he is not a great believer in individual awards and that his achievement was a team achievement. “No one gets there alone,” Boucher said. “As far as awards go, this one is an affirmation and recognition of all the people in work with.”

When asked about Cognetta and D’Annolfo receiving LEC awards Boucher said they were very much deserved and that they were a pleasure to coach. “Games aren’t won on game day, they’re won on the days before when you prepare to win, and a lot of people don’t get that,” Boucher said.

“This group got that so that made it special.” Boucher said Cognetta understood the importance and that she had a great basketball mind, describing her as a “conduit to which information flowed on the court.” “Selfishly I’d like to have Kelsey back for another year,” Boucher said. He added, “I never saw her raise her hand to come out of a game. You’ve got to tear her off the court.”

On the other end of the floor, Boucher said defensively D’Annolfo played with tremendous effort. “You cannot disguise effort,” Boucher said. “When Steph steps on the court she’s like the energizer bunny, once you wind her up she just goes. It’s constant energy and constant movement, and that’s a very tough thing to do at the pace that she does it.” In retrospect, Boucher said that these individual accomplishments were a result of outstanding team chemistry, extraordinary attitude from players and an endless amount of hard work from assistant coaches and the training staff. He described their achievements as, “Recognition for the program and all the hard work that everybody does that goes into it. So this is more of a team award than it is an individual award.”

Nick Tocco can be contacted at ntocco@kscequinox.com