EAST PROVIDENCE — The 2016-17 season didn’t quite end with the storybook finish city resident and Wheeler School girls’ basketball standout Anna Metcalf would have hoped, but the junior added plenty of notable entries onto her hoops resume this past winter.
Metcalf was the recognized leader of the Warriors, who took the Interscholastic League’s Division III ranks by storm. Wheeler made an impressive RIIL debut after years spent in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Southeastern New England league, going unbeaten en route to winning the D-III title. The Warriors went 21-0 in division games, including a 54-30 victory over Shea in the playoff final.
“It was really great coming into the (Interscholastic) league for the first time and being able to dominate every game. After working hard every day at practice, coming in and being able to put it all together in games, we were pretty successful at that,” Metcalf said of the Warriors’ journey to the D-III crown.
Wheeler’s season included qualification for the girls’ Open State Championship Tournament where the Warriors and Metcalf, coincidentally, suffered their first RIIL loss of the winter to her hometown team, East Providence, in the opening round. The Warriors also dropped a non-league outing to the Lincoln School, one of their former NEPSAC SENE foes.
Individually, Metcalf reached an impressive benchmark, tallying the 1,000th point of her career with a free throw during Wheeler’s regular season ending victory over Tiverton. Metcalf led the Warriors in scoring for the year, averaging over 16 points per game.
“She’s amazing. She’s the heart and soul of our team. We can always rely on her,” Wheeler head coach Stephanie Bissett said of Metcalf. “Sometimes she’s a little too unselfish, which she knows I ride her for. But she works hard every day and she brings our team to the next level. We wouldn’t be where we are without her, so we can’t fault her.”
Metcalf has been on the coach’s radar for a while. Her older sister, Catha, was a key contributor for the Warriors during her career before graduating in 2014.
“I actually coached her older sister. So she played for me and she was quite the basketball player as well. She wasn’t quite the shooter Anna is, but it’s not to take anything away from her,” Bissett added. “But I knew Anna was coming up. I kept my eye on her for sure, and I heard some really great things about her from the middle school coaches.”
After watching her sister’s career conclude, Metcalf said she was inspired to attain the noteworthy career scoring milestone. Catha was on the cusp of reaching the 1,000-point plateau by the end of her senior year, but came up just short.
“Since middle school I always wanted to get it,” Metcalf explained. “And since my sister didn’t get it, I really wanted to get it. I thought it would be a really cool goal because I always see the (1,000 career point) banners every day at The (Wheeler School) Farm (in Seekonk) where we practice, so I thought I wanted to be a part of that.”
Metcalf studied at St. Margaret School in Rumford through fifth grade before entering Wheeler. She played CYO basketball for St. Margaret Church and currently is also a member of Ocean State Panthers AAU program. Her aim is to continue her playing career when she graduates from Wheeler in the spring of 2018.
“I would definitely like to keep playing in college. I think I need to become a more consistent shooter and I have to keep working on my ballhandling, especially when driving,” she said.
To reach another of her goals, Metcalf knows she has to keep refining her skills, which should not only benefit her but also assist the Warriors as they seek to follow up their superb first RIIL season with a similar performance next winter.
“I think I need to work on being able to control the tempo of the game and what we’re doing on offense, make sure we get into our sets, help the team out wherever I can,” Metcalf added. “Winning another state championship would be pretty great, too. To win two consecutive years would be pretty nice. We just need to keep doing what we did this season, just keep building on that.”