SEASON PREVIEW: JAMESTOWN
The Lady Muskies had the unfortunate task of playing in the difficult French Creek Valley Conference, finishing 1-20 for second-year head coach Deb Erford.
This year, they hope to improve on that record, but still have a long road ahead of them.
"The winning attitude is here," Erford said. "Last year, the girls walked onto the court thinking they'd lose. The drive to win is back after a long time."
The drive may be there, but players may be hard to come by, especially early on if Jamestown gets into foul trouble.
Gone from last year are the Klink twins, Heather and Hannah, who contributed 97 and 81 points respectively, Lissie Erdice (83), Rachel Hull and Melissa McLure. Also out is junior Amy Knapp, who is expected to return after Christmas from torn cartilage.
Who coach Erford does have available is last year's top scorer, junior forward Danielle McElhaney, who was an all-conference pick last year. Two seniors join her in fellow returning letterwinner, forward Jessica Finnimore, and guard Kris Reed, who returns after a two-year hiatus from basketball.
Sophomore guard Darcy Beck and freshman forward Kelly Houghton will most likely round out the starters.
"I know it's a big step as a freshman, but Kelly's ready to be a varsity player," Erford said of Houghton.
Rounding out the young team are sophomore guards Tabitha Shollenberger and Sarah Heim and forward Kellie Kneeland, and freshmen guards Jamie Russell and Lindey Seman and forwards Amber Roberts, Heather Lorigan and Sarah Clark.
"We only have 11 girls in junior varsity and varsity," said Erford.
Erford has high expectations for the younger players this year, and they'll need to play hard to win.
Jamestown will face league foes Saegertown, Conneaut Lake, Conneaut Valley, Cochranton and Linesville as well as Class AA Lakeview, Union City, Maplewood and Cambridge Springs twice each. Included on the schedule is the Commodore Perry tournament and Mercer County opponents Reynolds, West Middlesex and Sharpsville.
Of the teams the Lady Muskies will face, Erford mentioned Saegertown as being a strong team even in supposedly down years.
Erford plans to use a zone defense and pressure in order to slow down some of their high-powered foes.
"We're working together well, and there's a definite team spirit here," said Erford.
Helping out coach Erford this year is assistant coach Colleen Shine. -- By Herald writer Scott DeJulia
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