By Dave Ricci
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The Kenmore West girls basketball team has begun this season minus eight seniors — including all five starters that helped them go 15-5 record and make it to the Section VI Class AA semifinals.
The Blue Devils will look to seniors Marylouise Lindner and Liz Gallagher to set the tone and carry on, not only the hard work last year's team displayed, but also the sisterhood that was the foundation for one of the most memorable Lady Blue Devil teams ever.
Two of the best all-around athletes in the school, Lindner and Gallagher were the top two options off the bench last season and will now be counted on to carry more of the load.
Lindner will run the point while Gallagher will play in the post. While Lindner was somewhat under the radar last season due to the eight seniors, she was a focal point of the offense as a sophomore.
"Marylouise is going to be called upon to be, in many ways, our leader," said Ken West coach Mike Licata. "That ball is going to be in her hands a lot."
Sophomore Alyssa Lesakowski also returns. Though she didn't see as much time on a senior-loaded team as she would have liked, Lesakowski showed flashes of what has everyone in the program so excited about her.
Danielle Hoare and Sharon Guarino are two hard-working returnees. Junior Melissa Fisher leads a core of seven new faces. Fisher saw a ton of quality minutes last season. Licata believes that once Fisher catches up with the speed of the game she will be a force.
Grace Ferguson, Charlotte Miller, Hayley Johnston, Katie Proy, Hannah Hanley and Shelby Donhauser are all new to varsity and give coaches Mike Licata and Jeff Martin several options to mix and match the lineup as girls develop.
"You look at who has to really step up this year," Licata said. "It's got to be Marylouise at the point. Liz at the post. It's gotta be Alyssa as a three or a four. Then quite honestly I would have to say our biggest (contribution) will come from, believe it or not, "Little Fish" (Fisher) who had an outstanding summer."
The Blue Devils also have the added attraction of Licata and Martin's sons, Michael Jr. and Cory, joining the coaching staff as JV coaches.
After 26 seasons paired with Jeff Martin, the elder Licata said regardless of what happens the rest of the way, being able to have Michael and Cory officially join the staff will make it a memorable year.