Depth is key to girls’ success
Having depth is an essential part of success for any sports team, including high school teams. Parkland girls basketball coach Wes Spence has worked hard to develop depth in the program and it continues to pay off for the Lady Trojans, who are 12-0 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and 15-2 overall this season.
Spence continues to mix in younger players throughout the game to give them experience and keep his starters fresh for key parts of both the game and the season.
“We are still trying to get experience for as many girls as possible,” he said. “We have played between eight and 11 girls regularly on a given night. The breakdown of those minutes has fluctuated, depending on the night, but we do think it is important to get girls experience on the floor when possible.”
Another reason depth is so important at the high school level is the loss of players through graduation. Every season, there are holes to fill on a team and having players who have gained playing time throughout their high school career has helped Parkland keep reloading season after season. One result for Parkland has been developing a team this season that has impressed its coach.
“They may be the best offensive team I’ve had in my seven years, and they give great effort offensively and defensively every night,” explained Spence.
Juniors Rachel Medlar and Devyn Anderson have stepped into the starting lineup this season to fill holes. Both have seen playing time over the past couple of seasons, helping them to pick up starting roles without missing a beat.
Parkland’s bench has a mix of some players who have been around the system for a while and know how to be successful in their own right, and other players who are getting on-the-job training by picking up minutes whenever possible.
“We have a mixture of experienced players (seniors Regan Allsop, Cathleen Gaffney and Kristin Krause) and young players (junior Faith Nation, sophomore Julia Buchman and freshman Kassidy Stout) in those reserve roles and they are also very talented and can give us a boost on any given night,” said Spence.
The plan is for those younger players to continue to get experience until their turn comes to step up into a starting role and help continue a tradition of success at Parkland. This year’s starters have gone through what those younger players are working through now and are providing leadership for the team. Spence is particularly proud of the fact that while Nadine Ewald garners a lot of the attention, he’s got a roster full of players who have grown into key roles with the team.
“Nadine has done a terrific job of putting in the extra work during the offseason and really showed great improvement and growth offensively from the end of last season to summer ball and into this season. The other returning starters from last season - senior Guard Sarah Stagaard and junior Guard Emily Piston, have also continued to provide steady leadership and lead our balanced offensive attack along with Nadine,” stressed Spence.
Even with a perfect conference record, a balanced attack and plenty of depth, Spence knows there can always be improvement. The good news is that he’s got a group of players who are not only good, but willing to put in the time and effort to make the team better.
“I really enjoy working with this group, and they have great chemistry and share the ball very well,” said Spence. “We need to continue to develop consistency at both ends of the floor. We go through lapses at one - or both ends - where we aren’t focused and don’t execute. As a result we can get stagnant on offense or give up easy points we shouldn’t on defense. The girls do a great job in practice and want to improve, so I am confident we’ll be able to continue to grow as a team as we enter the final part of the regular season and move into the post-season.”