Girls will count on young players
At the end of last season, Parkland coach Ed Ohlson was excited about what he saw when he looked to the future.
Sure, he was going to be losing five seniors including standouts Claire Courter, Kaitlyn Rothwell and Kassidy Stout, but he saw a lot of promise in players who would continue to develop and look to step into the lineup or play big roles coming off the bench.
Parkland finished 16-11 last season and when he looked ahead, he saw guard Mia Coval coming back from an injury to play significant minutes in her senior season. He figured on another rising senior in Ashlyn Fritzinger to play at the other guard spot and was looking forward to having defensive star Kaz Kennedy at point guard.
From there, he knew Lindsay Berger was going to be back for her junior season after showing big development last season and truly starting to come into her own on the court.
Then reality hit.
Scratch Coval, Fritzinger and Kennedy from this year’s team. Coval and Fritzinger will both miss the entire season with injuries and Kennedy decided to focus on her lacrosse career instead of playing basketball. In one fell swoop, all three of his guards were gone.
Enter Plan B.
“We’re going to have to turn to some younger players,” said Ohlson. “We were really excited about what we saw as a really strong team and the opportunity to perhaps have a really big season. With all of the changes that we didn’t foresee, we have to switch things around and look to some younger players.”
Zoe Wilkinson, who was figured on to see a good number of minutes after showing late last season that she could handle the rigors of varsity play, will now have an increased role with the team. Ohlson has no qualms about Wilkinson’s ability to handle a bigger role this season.
“She showed late last year that she can play,” said Ohlson. “We were going to find significant minutes for her and now, she’s going to have perhaps more minutes and they’re going to be in a starting role as a sophomore, but she can handle that.”
Berger has quietly developed into one of the better players in the Lehigh Valley and seemed content to accept a role behind the seniors, learning from them as she saw more and more time on the floor. Now, Berger will be front and center on a team that will need her to continue to step up and turn into a leader at the same time.
Ohlson also has a number of young players that he’s high on. Sophomores Carisa Fogt and Marisa Olenwine saw limited opportunities with the varsity team last season, but have stepped up and should see more time on the court this year. Ashley Young, now a junior, will step into the lineup to fill one of the guard spots. Fellow junior Sonya Shivok will also get an opportunity to put in minutes this season.
“This is just one of those situations,” said Ohlson. “We’re going to be a better team as the season goes on and I think that as these players get more experience, we could become a pretty good team later in the season. I told the girls that we’re likely to have some adversity, but that’s OK. We have to fight through that.
“The coaches are actually having a lot of fun with this group. There’s an excitement around the girls because a lot of them will get playing time that they might not have expected to get. Nobody is hanging their head. We feel sorry for the girls who will miss their senior seasons because that’s always tough, but we have games to play and you just pick up and keep going.”
Parkland opens the season this weekend with two games in the Tip-Off Classic in Bristol, and then starts their East Penn Conference play Tuesday when it visits Emmaus.