Sampson paces Waltham
By Greg Levinsky
Globe Correspondent

Her alarm clock goes off at 4 a.m. And there is no chance that Lauren Sampson hits the “snooze’’ button.

Many are hours from rising, but the Watham High senior departs in the wee hours twice per week during the offseason for an intense two-hour workout with her father, David.

“We would just get a ton of shots up,’’ Lauren Sampson said.

Her routine starts with form shooting, moves to mid-range and mixes in free throws between sets. Sampson then moves to the 3-point arc to improve her range.

The 6-foot forward has committed to Providence College, determined to find her niche.

“I noticed they do a really good job of involving people and getting shooters open when they come off of screens,’’ Sampson said. “They do a lot of passing, and definitely a lot of shooting and I think that will fit my game.’’

Providence women’s coach Jim Crowley said he began tracking her progress almost immediately after accepting his position in May 2016.

He scouted Sampson on the AAU circuit with the Bay State Jaguars before inviting her to recruiting camps. Providence offered her a scholarship the summer leading up to her junior year.

“We just really liked how well she learned,’’ Crowley said. “When we coached her at camp, she picked things up the first time we’d tell her about it, which is something we always look for.’’

At the high school level, Sampson is a matchup nightmare. The 17-year-old averages 23.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

In practice, first-year Waltham coach Julie Ranuccithrows a barrage of defensive looks at her star player. Face guards and unrelenting double-teams come not only in game play, but from her teammates on a daily basis.

“It makes it a lot easier for me this year to understand how to really take over those matchups and how I take advantage of the people that are guarding me,’’ Sampson said.

Ranucci said the Hawks try to prepare Sampson for how teams will defend her.

“Usually, it’s their best defender face-guarding her,’’ said the coach. “She’s so hard to guard and so hard to stop.’’

Ranucci describes Sampson’s offensive versatility as “potent’’ and “lethal.’’

As a freshman, Sampson averaged a modest 6.2 points per game. Her sophomore year, she put up 14.4 points per game before a breakout season as a junior, in which she averaged 22 points per game.

On the court, the Providence staff liked Sampson’s fit for the college game.

Just as important to Crowley is Sampson’s personality.

Shuffling between her own basketball practices, Sampson is helping the next generation, coaching a sixth grade team with the Bay State Jaguars. She also intends on studying history and secondary education at Providence.

“One of the most important reasons that we recruited her and offered her is the human being she is,’’ Crowley said. “She’s an incredible person with a great work ethic.’’

That work ethic has helped push Waltham to the brink of the state tourney. The Hawks dropped their first three games before winning seven straight, followed by four losses, and two wins.

Crowley is impressed with Sampson’s maturity.

“It’s great to see her communication and her leadership,’’ Crowley said.

“Having a new coach her senior year is a challenge, but the coach has done a great job and Lauren has really embraced the leadership role,’’ Crowley said.

Sampson sets the tone.

“She’s so driven and leads by example,’’ said Ranucci, the former Julie Rando who was a three-sport standout at Waltham and is in the school’s athletic hall of fame.

Said Ranucci, “She sets the bar so high for herself on the court that others just follow.’’

Courtside chatter

■  Prior to this season, Pembroke had never cut down the net. Now, the Titans have done so twice.

Before its first practice, every player on the team wrote down two team goals and two individual goals for the season.

Appearing on every player’s slip: “Win our first Patriot League title.’’

The players then went to the gym — absent of any banner for girls’ basketball — and cut down the net to get a sense of what it felt like.

As a subtle reminder, first-year coach Tim Lopes carried that net to every game, letting each player touch it.

On Friday night, the Titans fulfilled their goal with a 60-47 victory at Scituate to claim the Patriot’s Fisher Division crown. When they returned home, they cut down the net again.

“It was a culmination of a huge goal and a great accomplishment of the players,’’ said Lopes. “Each player wanted it really, really bad, so it was special that this season will not be memorialized in our gym with a banner.’’

The Titans (15-4) have been led by junior Katie Galligan, a 5-foot-8-inch forward who is averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds per game, 5-11 senior forward Jayne Howe (14 points, 10 rebound), who became the program’s all-time leading scorer in January.

“This Saturday coming up is arts and crafts day and that’s where we’ll establish our goals for the remainder of the season,’’ said Lopes.

■  When Amy Siggens took the helm at King Philip last winter, she set a three-year time frame for the Warriors to qualify for the tournament. The Warriors had won just nine games the previous two seasons.

Two years in, the Warriors (10-5) clinched a tournament berth for the first time since 2013-14 with a 63-44 victory over Attleboro last Friday. They finished 4-16 last season.

“Our goal was just to improve every year,’’ said Siggens. “We knew we could do it (make the tournament), but it depended on the kids improving the way we want to run things.

“These girls have stepped up, every single one of them. They’re working with each other I think they were a little bit more the year prior.’’

A 53-49 upset victory over defending Division 2 state champion Foxborough on Jan. 29 was a benchmark.

“It was a big win for us,’’ said Siggens. “Right now we’re just working on staying positive.’’

■ On Feb. 5, Barnstable senior captain Carly Whiteside reached 1,000 career points by knocking down the front end of a one-and-one with 3:23 left in the second quarter. The 6-foot-2 center was sidelind her entire junior campaign with a torn ACL.

■  During Masconomet’s five home games from Jan. 11-Feb. 4, the team held a toy drive. Additionally, members of the team placed donation boxes around the high school and middle school. Around 100 toys and other donations were made and the team is planning to deliver them to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on Feb. 21.

Games to watch

Saturday, Archbishop Williams vs. Coyle & Cassidy, 12:30 p.m. – In a matchup of defending state champions, Kaylee Haynes and the third-ranked Warriors take on Monica Spain and the 13th-ranked Bishops in the Comcast Tournament at Woburn High School.

Saturday, Braintree vs. Franklin, 3:30 p.m. — Junior center Ali Brigham leads the fifth-ranked Panthers against Adriana Timberlake and the seventh-ranked Wamps (13-4) in the Division 1 tilt of the Comcast Tournament at Woburn High School.

Saturday, Belmont vs. Cathedral, 5 p.m. — Two of the last three undefeated teams in the state go at it as top-ranked Belmont (16-0) clashes with second-ranked Cathedral (14-0) in the Comcast Tournament at Woburn High School.

Monday, Bishop Feehan vs. Westford Academy, 2 p.m. Bri Gillen and the Shamrocks look to pull another upset. This time it’s against the 15th-ranked Grey Ghosts (12-4) in the Mansfield Tournament held at Mansfield High School.

Monday, Old Rochester at Foxborough, 4:30 p.m. – Can Old Rochester (14-2) add to its impressive season with a win over Katelyn Mollica and the 12th-ranked Warriors (14-2)?

Greg Levinsky can be reached at