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01/27/2023 10:03 AM

Regan Growing as a Powerful Paint Presence for Valley Girls’ Hoops

Sophomore center Regan Grow has been at the center of the Valley Regional girls’ basketball squad’s success, nabbing numbers of 10 points and 10 rebounds per game for the 10-2 Warriors. Photo courtesy of Regan Grow

Regan Grow has always been fond of the game of basketball, in particular the true teamwork element of the sport that entails only five individuals moving the ball. And it is that element that has helped herself and the Valley Regional girls’ basketball team find successes.

The Warriors’ sophomore center started playing hoops at the Deep River Elementary School gym while also taking part in soccer. As she ceased playing on the pitch, her adoration for the floor grew by playing Valley travel and middle school basketball.

This season, Regan has produced strong numbers of 10 points and 10 rebounds per game, as the Warriors have already clinched another state tournament berth with a 10-2 record while being one of the top title contenders in the Shoreline Conference.

“My sister [senior teammate Lily] and family played basketball, so growing up, we always played in our front yard, and then I just found a love for it,” says Regan, who additionally plays volleyball and tennis for the Warriors as a three-season athlete. “I feel one of the reasons I have been so successful with basketball is my team. I could not be where I am now without my team. The way we pass the ball around has been great. I feel this year we learned we could really trust each other.”

While pounding the paint, Regan relishes being a safety to net a shot after a fellow Warrior may misfire. Conversely, she notes that she does reel in those points in the midst of a constant scrum and traffic down low.

“As a center, it is rewarding being the big who can get those second chance baskets or maybe draw a foul underneath if a teammate misses a shot,” Regan says. “It is always great to get those types of baskets. I think it is harder to get open in the paint because it is a cluster down there.”

As she has had a couple of campaigns within the Valley program, Regan remarks that the order of operations has aided her development as a producer in the paint. She further details that having a collection of coaches can foster additional ideas for improvements.

“I feel I have improved with the system we have here at Valley; it is a good yet challenging system,” Regan says. “Having two coaches here [assistant coach Bryan Field and Head Coach Jaimie Bickelhaupt] has helped bring together different things that can help myself and the team. I think having different coaches brings a lot to the table for a team.”

In the midst of the Warriors’ early-season surge, they procured a signature victory when they defeated rival Coginchaug 60-35 on Jan. 10 at home to remove the Blue Devils from the ranks of the unbeatens. The five-star matchup was a little unnerving, though Regan recalls that the template of teamwork propelled Valley to the triumph.

“I was nervous going into the game because Coginchaug was an undefeated team,” says Regan. “But we went into the game with a good mindset because we wanted to show everyone we are a good team this year. We shared the ball a lot and found our rhythm. We also worked hard on defense and applied what we learned in practice to the game.”

The Warriors cinched down their states spot while winning eight straight contests after a 2-2 opening to the season. Regan concludes that as Valley boasts a small program roster, it is actually quite beneficial to the team’s prominence and cohesion away from the court.

“We have 10 girls on the team, so that forces you to make really strong connections with your teammates,” Regan says. “I have been playing with the same girls for a while now, which helps. I feel the team this year is different because we are closer and push each other harder.”

Bickelhaupt explains that within Regan’s rapid rise to the starting ranks within a year, she displayed her true heart, courage, and determination to succeed while playing and caring for the Warrior next to her.

“Regan came into the program as a freshman, which was heavy with post players and no JV team,” says Bickelhaupt. “As a freshman, she played against Olivia Cunningham and her sister Lily in practice daily to get them ready for different matchups in our run last year. She worked hard to prove why she should be on the floor and is now starting as a sophomore. She’s all over the boards and impacts almost every shot in the paint with her height and long arms. She’s a great athlete but an even better teammate. She is always there for her teammates and works hard in practice.”

Heading into the middle of the season on the court and working through midterm exams in the classroom, Regan is aiming to make the grade on the books while strengthening her fundamentals on the floor to help aide the Warriors towards what they hope is yet another deep postseason journey.

“Academically, I want to focus on the sport but also school and get the best grades that I can,” Regan says. “For basketball, I want to try harder under the hoop and box out more. For the team, we know we all can really push each other. We need to fuel energy in each other because we all want to win Shorelines and go far in states.”