WVHS Girls' Basketball: Speed, Defense Key for Lady Rams
If the Wyalusing Valley girls’ basketball team is to break a 29-year championship drought this season, team speed and defense will be the main reasons, according to head coach Jon Schulze.
An intriguing mix of veterans and freshmen will make up the varsity lineup when the Lady Rams take the court against Port Allegany in the opening round of the Cowanesque Valley Tournament on Dec. 9.
Five letterwinners are back from last year’s squad that finished with an 11-12 record after dropping its District Four playoff opener.
Seniors Alexis Daly, Laci Holdren and Courtney Eberlin are back as are juniors Arielle Kneller and Mackenzie Martin.
Daly, who led the team with 11 points per game and 6.5 rebounds last season, and Kneller, who grabbed 5.1 caroms while scoring five points per game, give Schulze a potent inside game.
Both players can also drift outside and hit jumpers, keeping defenses honest.
Holdren ran the offense as point guard last season, handing out 2.7 assists a game. She also averaged 5.7 points per game and made 4.4 steals.
Martin averaged 2.1 points and 1.3 rebounds last year as a forward off the bench.
Eberlin was known for clutch outside shooting in her limited game time last year.
The remainder of the varsity squad includes seniors Jordan Armitage and Sydney Snyder; juniors Abby Borel and Savannah Schools; sophomore Kayleen Sutton and freshmen Ally DeVoir, Kasey DeVoir, Paighton Martin and Veronica Morrison.
Put together, it is a roster with a great deal of athleticism.
“I think our overall team speed is good, especially since our big girls are quick,” Schulze said.
Defensively, in a recent scrimmage with Tunkhannock and Montrose, the Lady Rams never abandoned man-to-man defense.
“I was generally pleased with our man defense,” Schulze said. “I want the kids to be able to play man and zone, but sometimes going to zone is a concession that you’re not matching up.”
If Schulze has concerns heading into the season, they are few and hopefully solvable.
Proven depth is a concern, especially behind Daly and Kneller inside and to spell Holdren on the point.
“Definitely we’re looking for players five through eight to prove themselves,” Schulze said. “All of our roster players have some strength, so a lot will be seeing which players can fill the missing pieces of the puzzle.”
While there is potential among the freshmen, the lack of a proven outside scoring threat to take heat off the big girls needs to be resolved.
Often, girls’ teams have difficulty finding leadership from within the squad. Schulze hopes leaders step up this year.
“We’ve challenged the kids that leadership can’t be silent. They need to be vocal on the court and in the locker room and keep everyone rowing the same way and putting the team first.
“We want to be the best team, regardless of where our individuals stack up.”
Looking at the league race, graduation may have finally brought Sayre and Towanda, who have been major roadblocks for the Lady Rams the past three seasons, back to the pack.
But as always, there are new challengers.
“Athens really didn’t lose much from last year,” Schulze noted. “Towanda has a couple key players back and a strong supporting cast.”
Still, he hopes this can be the year when a new banner gets hung in Layman Gymnasium.
“We certainly hope and expect to be able to go toe to toe with them,” he said.
The four freshmen will also dress and play in the junior varsity games for new coach Deirdre Huber, who moved up after several seasons as junior high coach. The other junior varsity players include sophomores Danielle Clark and Ciera Holland and freshmen Keon Copp, Pam Kelley and Morgan Sutton.
Seniors: Jordan Armitage, Alexis Daly, Courtney Eberlin, Laci Holdren, Sydney Snyder.
Juniors: Abby Borel, Arielle Kneller, Mackenzie Martin, Savannah Schools.
Sophomores: Danielle Clark, Ciera Holland, Kayleen Sutton.
Freshmen: Keon Copp, Ally DeVoir, Kasey DeVoir, Pam Kelley, Paighton Martin, Veronica Morrison, Morgan Sutton.