Editor's note: This is the latest in a series of profiles of local athletes.
Senior Kayla Pellot may be small in stature, but that doesn't stop her from playing a big role in the Haverhill High girls basketball team's success this season.
The Hillies rely on the 5-foot-7-inch guard to provide scoring. She is the team's go-to option in late game situations.
"She may not be tall, but she is definitely one of the strongest players out on the court," said head coach Bob Melillo.
Pellot is playing point guard on one of the most successful teams that the Haverhill girls have had in recent years. The squad had 14 wins and six losses as of Monday, and has clinched a spot in the MIAA Division 1 tournament. Once the tournament begins, the Hillies will be in for a challenge, as they face tougher teams than during the regular season. Haverhill was granted a waiver, which excluded its from playing Merrimack Valley Conference powers Andover and Central Catholic during the regular season.
"We will need our best scorers to step up in the tournament," Melillo said. "Players like Kayla will need to score above their season averages if we want to win."
Pellot has stepped up this season and is averaging about 13 points per game, after scoring 11.9 as a junior last season. She poured in 21 points on Feb. 3 against Notre Dame and was the catalyst for the most dramatic moment of the Hillies season.
On Jan. 31, the Hillies were in an up-and-down game with winless Lawrence, in which neither team was able to hold a substantial lead. After Lawrence tied the game late in the fourth quarter, Haverhill had 1.8 seconds to execute a successful play for the win. The coach turned to Pellot.
"We set up a play for her and I hoped that she got open," Melillo said. "She was able to get away from her defender and get to a spot where she has hit so many shots this year. She got the ball and took a perfect shot. All net."