Parkland Press

Monday, December 18, 2017

Girls return two starters from last season

Thursday, November 30, 2017 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

Parkland girls basketball head coach Wes Spence has a way of bringing out the best in players. Spence is especially good at bringing young players along and preparing them to play bigger roles on the team as the season goes on. That philosophy is one reason why Parkland is always competitive both in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and in District 11 play. After a 13-3 campaign in the conference and an 18-9 run overall last season, the Lady Trojans will look to mix a new crop of young players into the rotation to compliment this year’s upperclassmen.

With five players, including three starters, gone from last year’s team, Spence has to find a way to fill the production lost from the graduation of players like Devyn Anderson, Rachel Medlar and Emily Piston. Olivia Schantz and Carly Shaffer are also gone from last year’s team, leaving Spence and his staff to figure out who is going to fill particular roles with the team.

“It’s a work in progress,” saidd Spence after a recent scrimmage with three other teams. “We saw some good things in the scrimmage and we saw some things that we need to get better at. I love the chemistry that the girls have. They seem to get along really well not just on the court, but off the court and that helps a lot. When they come in to practice, they’re coachable and they work hard, so from that standpoint I’m really excited.”

Starters Julia Buchman and Kassidy Stout return, along with some players who got good amounts of playing time last season. Claire Courter, Keeley Coval and Shelby Staib all came off the bench last season to get considerable minutes for Parkland.

“That’s the other side of it, we’re pretty young,” said Spence. “We have five returning girls who got a lot of varsity time and we’ve got two starters back, but past that, there are a lot of brand new faces. We’ll have to see how that shakes itself out and figuring out how we fill those holes.

“I like it because we’ve got a couple of young players that I think we can do some stuff with. Lindsey Berger is a freshman who has worked hard, sophomore Ashyln Fritzinger is doing a nice job and we’ll just see if we can get them more comfortable. Everything changes when there are people in the stands, but I like the great young potential that we have.”

Throughout their summer games and the early practice schedule, Spence has seen seniors easily fall into leadership roles and becoming teachers for the younger girls on the team. Spence is going to rely heavily on his senior players to set the tone for the team.

“Keeley is a senior and this will be her third-year dressing with the varsity group, so she’s gotten a chance to play; her and Julia Buchman can be leaders off the floor and on the floor. They’re both doing a really nice job right now in trying to do the things that we want them to do. That’s always the first step is having seniors who are willing to take the message and implement it and be the coach on the floor.”

Even with a strong season last year, Parkland didn’t come away with any championships, but made it to the semifinals in both the EPC and District 11 tournaments. The Trojans’ run in districts was good enough to get them into the state playoffs, but they lost in the first round to Central Bucks South.

This season, the EPC figures to be pretty competitive again, with Spence giving the nod to Class 4A state champion Bethlehem Catholic, but also highlighting Easton, Freedom, Northampton and Nazareth as teams that figure to be especially competitive. Emmaus and Liberty both have new coaches this season and Central Catholic returns almost all of its roster from last season.

“We have the ingredients there to do pretty well,” said Spence. “The fact that we do have some experience and the fact that we have some good, capable, young kids, there are signs that we can do well.”