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The basketball dynasty in Dedham: Lady Bulldogs of Noble & Greenough

Jimmy Myers
The basketball dynasty in Dedham: Lady Bulldogs of Noble & Greenough
Tahira J. Muhammad puts up a shot against Dexter Southfield. PHOTO: BEN HEIDER

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Dynasty is one of the most overused words in sports, but you can’t help invoking the D-word when describing the Lady Bulldogs basketball team from Noble and Greenough School in Dedham.

The private-school team, under the 23-year guidance of coach Alex Gallagher, has won 17 Independent School League championships and nine New England titles.

This year’s team, the defending champions of the ISL Class AA division, have run up a 22-1 record as of this writing. The team’s diversity, with players from such urban enclaves as Boston and Brockton, has been its strength through the years in a league dominated by rosters of white suburbanites.

Point guard Christina Pham brings the ball up the court. PHOTO: BEN HEIDER

“Our program has worked hard to communicate a sense of belonging to everyone who is a part of it,” said Gallagher. “From players to managers to coaches, we want to know each other’s stories and we seek to honor every background and every culture.”

That approach has paid dividends in recruiting talent to study and compete on the bucolic campus by the River Charles.

“We talk about being a family that loves one another, serves one another, and cares for one another unconditionally, and my sincere hope is that we have built a reputation that inspires a highly diverse group of candidates to apply.”

Power forward Grace Oliver beats her defender for a layup. PHOTO: BEN HEIDER

Grace Oliver, the reigning Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year, leads the team. The 6-1 center/forward from Norwell is committed to Colorado University.

Nasi Simmons from Brockton — a tough slasher and versatile scorer — is committed to Columbia. Junior Jasmyn Cooper, a 6-1 proficient passer and strong finisher, is ranked No. 56 in the 2025 class.

Ashley Dinges from Haverhill, a rugged rebounder with prime scoring ability, has received scholarship offers from Princeton, Providence, Marquette and other schools.

Junior Christina Pham from South Boston is one of the best shooters in the state and has received scholarship offers from Boston College among many others.

Wing forward Jasmyn Cooper drives to the basket. PHOTO: BEN HEIDER

This loaded team brings Tahira Muhammad, a Dartmouth commit who would be a starter on many other teams, and Tori Balser, a multi-sport standout committed to playing lacrosse at Harvard, off their bench.

These young ladies follow a long line of great players who have worn the Blue and White of Nobles.

They include Ayla Brown, who finished high school as one of Massachusetts’ top female basketball players, with 2,358 career points, placing her 6th on the all-time scoring list for males and females. A two-time Gatorade Player of the Year and top female player in Massachusetts in 2010, Brown finished her Nobles career with great distinction before attending Boston College and going on to become a recording artist.

Katie Benzan, the second Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Basketball Player of the Year to be chosen from Nobles, has a resume many professional players would envy. The 5-5 point guard helped lead the school to five straight New England Prep School Athletic Council Class A Tournament championships.

Coach Alex Gallagher

Benzan concluded her high school career with 2,153 points while maintaining an A- average in the classroom. After starring at Harvard and the University of Maryland, Katie Benzan now holds a front-office position with the Utah Jazz.

Gallagher, who also serves as the school’s athletic director and is a member of the history and social science faculty, is known for substituting freely.

When he first came to the school in 2000, he said 50% of his coaching effort was directed toward building a culture, and the other 50% toward X’s and O’s. Today, he claims that it’s a 90-10 split — with the culture topping everything. Giving everyone a chance to play is a part of that.

“No one is coming here to score 30 points a game,” said Gallagher. “They are coming here to be part of something way, way bigger than any one kid. That sense of selflessness and sacrifice are at the core of our program.”

high school basketball, Lady Bulldogs, Noble and Greenough School, Sports