BRUNSWICK — The numerous accolades only begin to tell how important senior guard Kate Kerrigan is to the Bowdoin College women’s basketball team.

This season Kerrigan has been named the Division III player of the year in her conference, in all of New England, and most recently for the entire Northeast. A two-year captain, Kerrigan has led the fifth-ranked Polar Bears to their second Division III Final Four appearance and first in 14 seasons. She was named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year for a third time.

Kerrigan is the only player in Bowdoin history with more than 900 points, 600 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals in her career. With seven points in Friday’s national semifinal game against No. 2 Wartburg she’ll reach 1,000 career points.

“You look at those stats and you’re like, ‘OK, this girl is obviously incredible,’ but those people don’t get to practice with her every day,” said Bowdoin forward and tri-captian Lydia Caputi. “She’s the type of person that if you’re team loses a drill and you’re running a sprint, you’re chasing Kate. You’re always chasing Kate.”

Now Kerrigan and her teammates are chasing Bowdoin’s first women’s basketball title. If the Polar Bears beat Wartburg, either top-ranked league rival Amherst (31-0) or No. 3 Thomas More of Kentucky (30-1) will be Saturday’s opponent in the championship game at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota.

“I think we definitely have the ability to stay focused on our task,” Kerrigan said.

When the 5-foot-7 Kerrigan was at Noble and Greenough, a private school in Dedham, Massachusetts, she was “recruited heavily by all the NESCAC schools and we’re super blessed that she chose Bowdoin,” said Bowdoin Coach Adrienne Shibles.

Kerrigan, who is from Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, finished her high school career on a 65-game win streak with a third straight New England prep school Class A championship against Tabor Academy.

Caputi, a Brunswick resident, played for Tabor.

“Nine times I played against her in high school,” Caputi said. “Let me just say it’s a lot more fun to be on her team than to be playing against her. I love being her teammate. I did not love being her opponent. I went zero for nine.”

Lauren Petit, Bowdoin’s other senior tri-captain from Medfield, Massachusetts, played against Kerrigan when they were fifth-graders in a Metro West travel league before joining her on a club team three years later.

“You definitely don’t want to be against her,” Petit said. “If anything is not going her way, she’s going to do some little thing to change that. She’s a winner. She’s a competitor.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty competitive,” Kerrigan said. “I grew up in a competitive family. Everything is a competition but at the end of the day, whether it’s my brother, my mom, or my teammates, we’re going to be family and friends in the end.”

Friends who look to Kerrigan for leadership.

“Kate’s whole persona just kind of demands that respect and she’s someone you want to look up to,” said forward Maddie Hasson, a sophomore from South Portland.

Kerrigan was an instant contributor for Bowdoin, starting every game and being named NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman. In her career, she has played in every game, starting all but one. She was named the league’s top defensive player as a sophomore and senior, and to the all-conference first team as a junior and senior.

Tufts University Coach Carla Berube, the 2015 national Division III Coach of the Year, has seen Kerrigan first-hand for years, as a high school recruit, through four seasons of NESCAC battles and most recently when Kerrigan had 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists in Bowdoin’s 66-48 Elite Eight win against Tufts.

“She’s become a bigger threat at the offensive end over the years. She creates a lot for her teammates, she can shoot the 3, and is a great slasher,” Berube said, “but it’s the amount of loose balls and offensive rebounds that she gets for that team. She is absolutely their best player. She’s the one who makes them go.”

Kerrigan averaged a career-best 10.7 points this season, while leading the team in rebounding (6.8), assists (4.0) and steals (2.6). Kerrigan attempts fewer than eight shots a game. As a team, Bowdoin spreads the ball, with nine players averaging more than five points.

“I think we’re certainly better as a team than we are individually,” Kerrigan said after Monday’s practice. “One nice thing about our team is that we’re pretty even scorers so if one person is having an off night, someone else is going to step up, which I think makes us really hard to play against.”

In six tournament games (two NESCAC, four NCAA), Kerrigan is averaging 14.0 points and 7.8 rebounds.

Her ability to rebound against taller opponents speaks to several of Kerrigan’s winning traits.

“She has such a mind for the game, she knows where to be, and she has a motor that never stops,” Shibles said. “She’ll make a play at one end and be the first one down at the other end. I think it’s just a combination of heart and also intelligence on the defensive end that makes her special.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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