Leader of the pack

The sole senior on the KSC basketball team, Siobhan Carnell, reflects on her final season

Brian Schnee

Equinox Staff


Each individual athlete possesses a skill that sets them apart from the rest of the team. Sometimes it is a physical attribute such as strength. Perhaps it’s a connection between the brain and the body demonstrated in the precision that goes into the strike of a ball, with the laces of a cleat or the finger pressure on a baseball. However, most of these skills can be taught. For the Keene State College Women’s Basketball team, they have a player on their roster who is versatile, flexible and has all the pieces of her game pieced together to create a very unique puzzle.

Siobhan Carnell is the lone senior on the KSC Women’s Basketball team. After playing a few seasons with a select few dominant players on the court by her side, Carnell finds herself in a different role this season with the Owls.

Prior to playing at the college level, Carnell played her high school basketball at Quincy High School in Quincy, Mass. After scoring 1,000 points for the team in just three years as a varsity athlete, Carnell looked into playing at the next level. With various colleges in mind, KSC never really crossed the minds of Carnell or her family in the decision process. She decided on Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H. which is located  35 minutes from Keene.

“I decided on my college decision really late in the spring of my senior year in high school,” Carnell said. “I wish I came to Keene right away to be honest, so I could have played with Courtney [Cirillo] and other players like that.”

Carnell’s mother, Jeanne, has always been a big influence in her basketball career. Throughout her youth, starting at the age of five, Jeanne was the one to drive and pickup Siobhan from her church league basketball games. As things progressed through high school, Jeanne helped Carnell with her college process.

In the 2009-10 season, Carnell appeared in 18 games for the Ravens of Franklin Pierce, averaging only three minutes per game and scoring a total of eight points the entire season, according to Franklin Pierce Athletics. Jeanne Carnell admitted she was a little disappointed things didn’t work out at Franklin Pierce University.

“She wasn’t going to get the playing time there, so she decided to leave and didn’t know if she was going to play basketball anywhere else,” Jeanne said. “I asked her if she wanted to play anywhere else and she said ‘I don’t know, I don’t know,’ and I said ‘you have to play. You’ve been playing all your life and you can’t stop now.’”

From then on, a simple series of phone calls between long-time coach Steve Hancock at Franklin Pierce and KSC’s Head Coach Keith Boucher had Carnell in an Owls’ uniform within the next year. “I got a phone call from Steve saying that he’s got a kid interested in transferring to Keene State [College],” Boucher said. “He told me she works hard and had a tough time finding a role on the team as a ‘tweener.’”

Now as a collegiate senior, Carnell started from scratch by learning the ways of another college basketball system.

“I came in here with the mindset of adjusting to what the team needs,” Carnell said.

Boucher said that with level of basketball that Carnell and the Owls play at, it is necessary to find players that can play at the guard and forward positions. “She came here as a guard and we had to make a transformation for her to the forward position,” Boucher said. “When she came here we had a legitimate need for a forward and she made that transformation which was difficult at first.

“When she first got here, I got on her a bit because I could see the potential,” Boucher said. “Her body language told me she didn’t want to hear it, but it was part of the growth process. But after making an instant connection with the players, she’s turned into a really good player for us.”

According to Keene State Sports Information, Carnell averaged just over eight points a game in her first season with the Owls and since then it has grown to over twelve per game this season. In addition to her scoring, her 5-foot, 9-inch frame pulls down almost seven rebounds per game, a team high.

“I think the result of her progress is what you see this year,” Boucher said. “She’s taken on a leadership role and has literally carried us in at least three games so far.”

Being the only senior on the team, Carnell initially felt that it would be a little difficult as the truest veteran on the squad in terms of experience. However, with the loss of four graduating players from last season, Carnell has welcomed the pressure with open arms. “We knew we had to fill the scoring role that was lost last year,” Carnell said. “Filling the void has been difficult but I think a lot of it has to do with experience.”

According to Keene State Sports Information, through Dec. 9 of this season, Carnell leads the team with the most minutes played per game on average along with points per game. She has lead the Owls offense in scoring in three of the eight games to date, including a career high 27 points in an 83-68 loss at RPI.

Carnell and her coach have noticed she has an unorthodox jump shot, in addition to her speed and tendency moving down the court. However, those qualities work to her advantage. She defines her game as a “slasher.” “My outside shooting isn’t very strong,” Carnell said. “I’d say I’m more of a slasher by driving with the ball and drawing contact or by penetrating and drawing the defense so I can kick it out to my teammates on the perimeter.”

Junior Brianna McCain has played alongside Carnell for three seasons now. “She brings a lot to the table both defensively and offensively,” McCain said of Carnell.

McCain touched on her teammate’s unusual yet extremely effective jump shot, which has gotten to be known by various players and coaches that scout the Owls team. “Her ability to elevate and contort her body in ways that don’t make sense to anyone makes her an even better player,” McCain said. “She can get to the hole and drain the 15-foot jumper.”

“You cannot put [Carnell] into a mold the way she plays,” Coach Boucher said. “I don’t know how she gets her body into some of the positions that she gets them in, for one, to get the shot off and two, for the ball to go in the basket.”

Siobhan’s mother mentioned she didn’t know where her daughter’s “bendy” style of play came from but that it’s always worked. “She’s always been able to somehow drive in, bend and throw it up and in,” Jeanne said. “Her 17-foot jump shot almost on the three point line left all the boys calling her Michael Jordan.”

“When they saw her on the softball field or the soccer field they’d say, ‘Hey there’s MJ,’” Jeanne said.

“She’s a contortionist,” Boucher said, echoing Jeanne Carnell’s description of her daughter’s playing style. Boucher mentioned that he’s been told time and time again that “14” takes a lot of what they called “bad” looking shots.

“By the time you get in college you can’t change a lot of parts of your game,” Boucher said. “If you’re going to try to change something that works for somebody, you’re going to make the product worse.”

Boucher summed up her play by saying, “That’s who she is.”

“She’ll still take the fade-away and still get into the lane and move her body this way and that way with her head going back with the ball thrown in the air, but the ball will go in the basket,” he said.

Come late February, Carnell will have a senior day all to herself.

“I’ve enjoyed watching her play all these years,” her mother said. “We’ve always loved to sit and watch her play. I’m sorry that it’s over.”


Brian Schnee can be contacted at


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