Optimism runs high for girls' hoops teams
By John Bernhardt
First impressions count. How hard and how fast a basketball team gets out of the gate sets the tone and establishes a persona that can define a team.
With little more than a preview of what their teams can do, the area girls’ basketball coaches are excited about moving forward and anxious to see the round ball script unfold. All three hardwood mentors; Susie Little of Andes, Kyle Holden of Margaretville and Lisa Faraci of Roxbury are impressed with the focus and positive energy their squads have brought to the preseason.
First-year coach Susie Little starts with her core as she evaluates the early progress of her team. “We have a core of five girls who have played together for three years now. These girls have come to know each other well and can really get inside of each other’s heads. We’ll be looking to build off that core.”
At the center of Little’s core are three seniors. With three years of varsity experience, Ashley Terry is one of the strongest defenders in the league. “Ashley is very knowledgeable and came to practice the first day in the best physical shape of her life,” praised Little. Assertive around the basket, Terry is an excellent rebounder who can score with either hand near the hoop.
“Ashley has been working hard on her shot away from the basket. It falls into place nicely when she’s relaxed,” noted the Andes coach.
Another hard-nosed defender, senior Marissa Heannings earns kudos from her coach for her commitment and leadership. Heannings plays guard and is working very hard on improving her ball skills.
A forward, senior Desirae Coss is a player who can bank in an inside shot or spot shoot from the outside. Little reports that Coss is making progress picking up defensive fundamentals. The Andes coach will also need Coss to pull down some boards.
Two juniors complete the Andes core. Kelsey Little, a guard, will be charged with handling most of Andes ball handling responsibilities, at least in the early season. Little’s intense focus and attention to detail are assets when commanding the Mountaineers’ offense.
Some summer camp exposure seems to have added a shot of confidence to Jade Litaker’s game. “Jade has really improved her skills. Her shot is looking good and she’s showing some solid defense,” Little explained.
Five sophomores help solidify the Mountaineers’ core. Back for her second season, Shianne Coss has impressed her coach. “Shianne is versatile,” emphasized Little. “She has good inside play and a sweet shot from the outside.” A strong work ethic also pleases Little.
The final four sophomores are playing high school basketball for the first time. Samantha Falco is a ball handling guard with a nice little shot. As Falco’s court awareness develops, she should give a boost to the backcourt.
A sophomore transfer, Jordan Day will provide the Mountaineers with some inside strength. Day is enthusiastic and a fast learner who as her court awareness matures should provide Little some depth at the forward slot.
Josephine DeSanto and Amber Terry round out the roster. DeSanto is working hard on acquiring basic skills and understanding game formations. Little is looking forward to Terry’s release for practice and hopes the sophomore can boost her teams inside play.
“The girls have set their goals high. We plan to aim high, do our best, and see where it takes us,” finished the Andes coach.
“If we play like I think we’re capable, I like our chances.”
Margaretville girls’ basketball coach Kyle Holden is optimistic about his team and its chances as the Blue Devils prepare for the winter season. Holden’s squad has experienced senior leadership, balanced guard and forward play, and athleticism.
Holden’s positive slant starts with senior twin sisters, basketball mirror opposites, Amy and Erin Filupeit. Amy returns for her third season as the Blue Devils’ starting point guard. Filupeit is quick and runs the floor well. Perhaps the best outside shooter on the team, she has led Margaretville in shooting three-point goals in each of the previous two seasons.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Erin, is a Blue Devils’ inside force, the leading rebounder on last year’s squad. A long wingspan helps Filupeit play the ball off the rim. Filupeit has a real nose for the ball and averaged over 10 rebounds per game last year.
Two other seniors, Sarah Hagatore and Kristi Gavette, return. Hagatore brings great energy to the Blue Devils’ roster and Gavette has been working out at the wing in the preseason.
A strong junior presence is the hub of the roster. Seven juniors have moved up from last year’s junior varsity team. Holden likes the assertive inside play of Tess Svoboda. “Tess is athletic and quick and doesn’t wait for the ball to come to her. She goes and gets it,” complimented Holden.
Raeann Bond is another junior who will work around the post. Holden has been impressed with Bond’s outside shot and anticipates inside/outside production from his strong rebounding forward.
A point guard for the JV last season, Kelsey Buerge could back up Filupeit at that spot. Buerge is a scrappy guard who gives Holden three players with efficient dribbling skills who can advance the ball on the floor.
Fast and athletic, Rachel Mathiesen adds depth around the perimeter. Mathiesen returned to basketball last season and is picking up the nuances of the guard spot quickly.
The Blue Devils’ defensive profile gets a boost from the hard-nosed play of another junior, Alexis Molnar.
And, Felicia Falco and Megan McKenna will be assets around the hoop. Falco is strong and physical and goes to the boards hard. Holden reports his junior post player is working hard at improving her defensive skills. McKenna’s long arms and strong leaping ability have her battling Erin Filupeit for rebounds in practice. “Megan and Erin compliment each other’s play well.” Holden is pleased with McKenna’s work learning finishing moves.
The first person off Holden’s bench last year, Annette Hogan will help out at the point. The spunky sophomore is a tough competitor with the team’s best long range shooting fundamentals. Hogan is far more comfortable on the court this fall than during the preseason of her rookie campaign, and Holden predicts big days ahead for his sophomore.
“Last season our big issue was depth,” explained Holden. “We would compete early in most contests but would struggle if we got into foul trouble. We need to have a stronger bench.”
Holden wants to focus on fundamentals and break things down to keep play simple. “I think we can push the issue on both ends of the floor,” predicted Holden. On defense I’d like to mix it up a little and play well going both ways in transition.
Although Holden thinks the Delaware League will be more balanced, until someone knocks South Kortright and Davenport from the top of the standings, he gives them the nod as favorites. The Margaretville coach was impressed with the improved play of Hunter-Tannersville and Stamford last year.
But, Holden wants his team to stay focused on their progress. “I like the intensity they bring every day,” Holden praised. If they keep playing smart and playing hard, we’ll be all right.”
“Our goal is to be competitive every night,” Roxbury girls’ basketball coach Lisa Faraci proposed. “The girls are working very hard, playing with intensity. We’re working on really picking up our defensive play. Offensively, I think we’ll have a little more balance. Small contributions across the board add up”.
Faraci’s emphasis on defense starts with her two seniors. Both are experienced veterans and work hard on the defensive side of the floor. Returning for her third season, Brittany Keator is a solid overall player with a fondness for shutting down the guard of forward she defends. Quick and strong, Alexi Boice brings that same passion to defend inside the paint. Boice pursues the ball well in the air and is one of Roxbury’s best rebounders.
Like Margaretville, the nucleus of her squad is her juniors. Six juniors round out the roster. A first team Delaware League all-star last season, Kennedy Faraci is the total package on the court. A double-digit scorer and an excellent passer, Faraci can create offense when patterns break down. The junior plays guard but can mix it up from the inside or outside.
Pesky and quick, Cristina Chiarappa returns and is everywhere on the court. A no nonsense defensive force, Chiarappa is working hard to make improvements to her shot during the preseason. Kendall Sprague is back quicker and stronger in the paint. “We need Kendall to be a presence on the boards,” emphasized Faraci. “She is more aware of game situations and working very hard.”
Two juniors move up from the JV. With overall team depth an issue, Bailey O’Donnell is a valuable addition. O’Donnell is versatile and can play at either guard of forward. Samantha Sprague adds offensive potential from the inside. Faraci is working to kick up Sprague’s assertiveness snatching rebounds off the backboards.
Excellent knowledge of the game and a love and passion for basketball lift Allyce McIntosh, a freshman, to the varsity ranks. “Allyce just loves to play. She’s a good shooter and a great addition to our team,” Faraci explained.
Although previous basketball excellence has earned South Kortright and Davenport the roles of favorite in each division of the Delaware League race, Faraci believes the league is more open this season. “We could see some new faces challenging for a spot at the top,” the Roxbury coach speculated.
If Faraci’s gang continues to work hard and all the pieces fall into place, perhaps, one of those new faces might be Roxbury.