Rivier hoop star rewrites record book

NASHUA ­- When it comes to Kaylee Kacavas, Rivier University women’s basketball coach Paul Williams doesn’t mince words.

“She’s the best player who has ever played at Rivier,” Williams said. “Or at least she’s in the

conversation.”

Williams is careful not to insult Hudson’s (and former Alvirne standout) Deanna Purcell, who is the school’s all-time leading scorer. But Kacavas led the Divsion III nation in scoring at 27.3 points a game, and was a Great Northeast Athletic Conference First Team selection, and was also named to the D3hoops.com All-Northeast Region team. It’s the first time a Raider women’s player has received that honor since, well, Purcell in 2015.

The sad thing is that Kacavas, a 5-8 senior from Dracut, Mass., has seen her Raider career come to an end.

“She’s the most unselfish scorer I’ve ever had,” Williams said. “But to have the nation’s leading scorer to be right here in Nashua, N.H., is pretty cool.

“She didn’t even know toward the end of the year until one of her teammates told her. She was shocked.”

“It’s really crazy,” she said about being the nation’s leading scorer. “I didn’t think I could do it.”

Kacavas was in double figures in every game. She shot 46.4 percent from the floor and set the program best for single game scoring with 43 points against Lesley University.

Kacavas injured her wrist the second game of her junior year, and decided while rehabbing that and in the summer before this season she decided “I wanted to come back better than I was before. I worked really hard.”

Williams wonders just how much better things would have been for Kacavas had the Raiders had a more successful team around her. The last two years they struggled, going 4-19 overall this year, including 2-12 in the GNAC.

“She was the focus of everything we did offensively,” Williams said. “But she did all that with other teams focusing on her.”

Williams feels Kacavas excelled as a rebounder (5.6 boards per game) and distributed the ball well (2.8 assists). And, he felt she was a superb defender. “Defensively she was outstanding,” he said, “and she’s an absolutely lights out shooter. She averaged 11 free throws a game. But she would get fouled so often they stopped calling fouls.”

Williams made sure that her young teammates paid close attention to everything she did.

“I’d have my freshmen watch her every move,” he said, “from the moment she’d walk into the gym.”

What’s even more amazing about Kacavas is she excelled on the court while student teaching.

in the Nashua school system, working at a local restaurant, and maintaining a 4.0 grade point average. Knowing all that, it’s tough to argue with any accolades she receives.

How important was playing for Riv to her? She actually had enough credits to graduate after the first semester, but took a class this current semester just so she could play the full season.

And now knowing that her Rivier career is over is a bit of a jolt.

“It’s really tough,” she said. “I’m glad I stuck it out for the full four years.”

What’s next? Williams thinks that Kacavas may not be done playing.

“She’s good enough to continue playing,” he said, referring to perhaps playing overseas. “She has some decisions to make. We’ve talked about it, and I’ve told her to be careful, that some countries she may not want to play in because of quality of life.”

Kacavas has been invited to a Euro League tryout in Tampa, Fla., in August. She says she’s still deciding whether or not to go and has to inform the league by March 19 if she will attend the tryout. “I still haven’t figured that out,” she said.

In any event, it’s clear Rivier will miss her big time.

“It’s going to be different,” Williams said when asked what life will be like without Kacavas on the team. “I think anybody who didn’t see her play while she was here really missed out.”

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