Tonawanda News

December 6, 2013

2013-13 Tonawanda girls basketball preview

Stories By Matt Parrino • matt.parrino@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Tonawanda girls basketball coach Jay Hall installed his offensive system when practices started about a month ago. 

But with a senior duo running the show and seeing the floor the way Alanna Herne and Kalyn Compeau do in transition, Hall isn’t sure how much he’ll have his squad run plays.

“We have our offenses put in but I don’t think we’ve even used them yet in our scrimmages because they just run the court,” he said. “Alanna sees the court so well. I’ve never seen a girl pass like that — no look passes, it looks like she’s in college with some of that stuff. We have the offenses, but I’ll tell you the truth — I don’t know if we’re going to be running them this year because they’re so good at seeing the court and leading out there. I don’t have to tell them what to do.”

Compeau, Herne and center Savanna Baughman, the senior starters on this year’s Lady Warriors team, lead Tonawanda into the 2013-14 season with high expectations. 

Tonawanda has captured the regular season ECIC IV title the past two seasons and Compeau said the seniors have instructed the underclassmen that anything short of a three-peat is unacceptable.

“Before we even played in a scrimmage we told the team that we’ve been league champs two times now and we’re looking for a third,” Compeau said. “That’s our goal and everyone knows our goal. They all understand and we’ve been working hard in practice, and it’s showing on the court.”

Hall has been impressed with the progression of Baughman and junior Paige Hill down low. He said both players should be able to control the paint on both ends and the boards for the Lady Warriors.

“Savanna has worked hard on her defense, and I think she’ll be better and keeping the ball away from the post players,” Hall said. “Paige has been doing an outstanding job rebounding so far. I’m looking for those two underneath to really help us out.”

For the fifth spot in the THS starting lineup, Hall will alternate between a pair of juniors. When he wants speed and quickness he’ll go with a three-guard set which includes Haley Snyder. When he wants size and strength he’ll insert Haley Slater, who played most of last season on JV before getting the call up to varsity late in the season.

On Hall’s bench, which goes seven players deep, sits a unit that does many of the same things the starting squad can do. Guards Dahnea Harrison and Ashley Ostrowski can handle and push the ball, Brittany Slater can really shoot it, Alicia Farrell and Liz Carlson bring toughness and freshman Haley Schoelerman is the perfect combination of size and finess. Schoelerman, a freshman, has been playing guard since she could pick up a basketball, and Hall said she should be a nice addition.

Hall said this year he’s hoping to have everyone on the team together for a full year. He’s hoping that avoiding injuries and getting a little extra push down the stretch will lead the Lady Warriors deeper in the playoffs this season.

In the end, though, Hall said his team’s success is predicated on its speed. Compeau said the Lady Warriors have speed to burn.

“We have a lot of speed on our team,” Compeau said. “Our guards — we’re unbelievably fast, to be honest. Even our forwards are stepping up and beating some of the guards in races at practice.”

“We’re going to be running. Alanna has been doing good, even against taller teams in scrimmages,” he said. “We try to go with the three guards and out-run them. I think  we’ll be more of a run and gun team this year.”

•••

North Tonawanda approached this season in rebuilding mode. It graduated three starters from last season’s team and has just one senior this year. Though the Lady Jacks, who finished 3-16 last season, may have suffered their biggest loss in the preseason.

On Nov. 25, Kayla Barone, a junior point guard, suffered a season-ending knee injury in a scrimmage against Starpoint.

“Timing is everything,” said coach Luke Vogel. “We graduated three key players … It almost felt like it was going to be a clean slate, starting over. But we can’t get healthy.”

The injuries don’t end with Barone, who would have been a second-year varsity player. Katherine Zgolak, a senior and the likely captain in her third year on varsity, is out for the season with nagging injuries from soccer and volleyball season.

“In essence, we’re down two starters from a team that is already incredibly young,” Vogel said.

In fact, Vogel said it’s the youngest team he has ever coached. He’s in his fifth year at NT, and before that he coached girl’s varsity at Cheektowaga for six years. “It’s far and away the youngest team I’ve ever had.”

After the graduating players and the injuries, Vogel’s Lady Jacks roster is comprised of one senior, six juniors and four sophomores.

Gretchen Ringler is the captain and the lone senior. Vogel expects Ringler to display steady leadership throughout the season. But Megan Weaver may be the Jacks’ most talented player.

A junior, in her second year on varsity, Weaver is a guard-forward combo who has a scorer’s mentality — can shoot from deep, handle the ball and attack.

“We’re relying on her to do a bit of everything, and that was before [Barone] got hurt,” Vogel said. “Now the responsibility and need for [Weaver] to do a bit of everything is slightly increased.”

Vogel said the next step in Weaver’s development is learning to make the girls around her better.

As a team, the Jacks planned on getting out and running this year — a different style from year’s past, where Vogel’s offense featured more half court sets. But with the loss of Barone, that may have to change. It appears Vogel will be adapting all season.

— Jon Gagnon

•••

Names change. That’s just part of life in the world of high school sports. 

But the one constant that remains in the world of Kenmore West Lady Blue Devils basketball is hard work and giving an effort that is second to none.

As the Lady Blue Devils begin the 2013-14 campaign they do so with one of their smallest rosters ever — just 10 girls to start the season.

“We have to outwork people,” said coach Mike Licata. “We probably won’t out talent anybody this year. Not yet, but we might be able to outwork people. And I say ‘might’ because it takes hard work to commit to that.”

Leading the way for the Blue Devils will be junior center Katie Proy, senior point guard Melissa Fisher as well as fellow seniors Hayley Johnston and Danielle Hoare.

With no jump off the page star at this point in time, the Blue Devils have to maintain the mind set of every girl working as one for the greater good of the team if they hope to rack up the wins this season.

“We need to have a lot of team work to be successful this season,” said Proy.

Proy, at 6-foot-1, and tough-as-nails varsity newcomer Samantha Britton, the Blue Devils have a 1-2 punch in the paint that they haven’t had in a long time. The rebounding and points off of put backs from those two alone should give Ken West enough points to keep them in every game.

Kiki Wright, like Proy, made great strides in the off season and should be a nice weapon on both sides of the court for Ken West.

One of the youngest teams in the NFL, the Blue Devils have four ninth graders: Grace Ferguson, Destiny Catania, Anna Quinlan and Rachel Sefried. 

Excited by the potential of his youth, Licata said the challenge for the young girls-especially up from JV — is can they raise their games to the varsity level.

— Dave Ricci

•••

The challenge is putting the pieces together in a winning combination.

As the Kenmore East Lady Bulldogs move into the new season they’ll have some of the brightest young players in the Niagara Frontier League. But the question before this group is how quickly can they bring it all together as a unit.

Leading the way for Ken East will be Julia Snitzer and Sarah McCarthy. Snitzer, the team’s lone senior, is the epitome of the team-first, never say die attitude coach Kristy Bondgren wants her Bulldogs to have this season.

McCarthy, a 6-foot junior in her third season of varsity, has all of the tools to be one of the top post players in Western New York. Sophomore guard/forward Kiaja O’Neil brings a mix of skill, speed and tenacity. 

Freshman guard Kendall Mills, arguably the best guard in the league, handles the ball very well and has a great outside shot. Bondgren also feels that O’Neil, Mills and McCarthy — like Snitzer — are learning how to bring their individual personalities to floor, which can help relax the mood when it’s needed most.

“I think a big part of what I see with someone like Kiaja and someone like Kendall and Sarah is they have known what I’ve wanted in the program since Day One,” said coach Kristy Bondgren. “So it’s always been consistent for them. And I think they’ve seen the personality that they bring off the court is welcomed on the court when the time is right.”

Ken East has just nine players on varsity as junior Renee Haase has been sidelined indefinitely because of concussion symptoms.

The lack of depth means talented eighth graders Katia Weeks and Serena Sordetto, both new to varsity, will be getting a trial by fire. 

Instead of rotating Weeks and Sordetto in and out of the lineup like older girls — being injured or in foul trouble will force the two youngsters to be on floor at the same time. 

Alyssa Ghosen, Minde Simons and Abbagaile Kitchen complete the roster.

— Dave Ricci