SEASON PREVIEW: LAKEVIEW
Last year, first-year coach Frank Shugarts shocked the French Creek Valley Conference with a playoff run that extended into the PIAA Class AA tournament. The Sailors lost in the first round to District 7's Seton-LaSalle, 72-36, but they're poised to make another run at the playoffs this year.
"Coaching the team this year is different than coaching the team last year," said Shugarts, who club was 16-12 overall and 13-5 in the FCVC a year ago. "This year, it's hard to judge how the team is doing because the people know the offense and defense so well. It's hard to say where we're at right now."
On paper, where they're at looks good, as the Lady Sailors lost just Kim McClearn and Riley Neugebauer to graduation. McClearn's 237-point season will be missed, but Lakeview has a deep and talented 19-player roster in junior varsity and varsity.
Shugarts is keen on 5-5 senior point guard Morgan Sasse (219 points last season, 467 career points), whom he says hasn't gotten the recognition she deserves for what she's done for this team.
"Sasse is one of the toughest kids in the program," he said. "She plays great defense and creates scoring opportunities."
Her toughness was proven recently when she almost tore her thumbnail off in a scrimmage. Most players would have sat out, praised Shugarts, but she bandaged the damaged digit and kept playing.
Other seniors starting are 5-10 guard-forward Erin Morrow (300 points last season) and 5-5 guard-forward Nancy Lengauer. Morrow drained 28 shots from beyond the 3-point arc to lead the team and all three are two-year letterwinners.
Lakeview has also picked up first-year player Leann Nestor, a 5-8 power forward who will add some physicality in the paint, according to Shugarts.
"It'll take her a few weeks to learn the offense and fit in with the team, but she'll allow us to create some different looks for the second half of the season," he said.
The junior class is led by last year's top scorer Tenesha Aden. The 6-1 center scored 343 points last year and has 481 points for her career. She will start along with classmate Gina Oddi, a 5-3 guard who put in 109 points before tearing her ACL in a game late last year.
"She is one of our most improved players," Shugarts said of Oddi.
Another junior who will see time off the bench is Melissa Lengauer, a 5-7 guard-forward letterwinner. Other juniors include 5-5 guard-forwards Mindi Campbell and Jaime Hicks and 5-4 guard Danielle Retallick. The sophomores include 5-8 guard-forward Ashley Bronson, 5-8 center Shelby Klapec, 5-3 guard Melissa Muschick and 5-8 forward Dana Pears. The freshmen are 5-7 forward Krista Benson, 5-3 point guards Anna Deneen and Rachel King, 5-7 guard Justine Iskat and 5-7 forward Stephanie Koller.
This year Shugarts has been pushing a man-to-man defense with both full-court and half-court presses. He hopes his work will be good enough for a tough year in the league, which includes Conneaut Lake, Maplewood, Cambridge Springs, Linesville, Jamestown, Union city, Conneaut Valley, Saegertown, and Cochranton, as well as the Grove City and Linesville tournaments.
"Saegertown is as tough as ever," said Shugarts. "Conneaut Lake will be tough, Linesville will be good, and Union City could be the sleeper this year."
Lakeview has a tough road to follow, but Shugarts is prepared.
"We've been gearing up for this season," he said. "We want to win every year and be competitive every year, (but) if we can finish like we did last year and improve continually, we have a good chance in the playoffs."
Shugarts will be assisted by junior varsity coach Tim Nesbit and assistant coach Doug Mays. -- By Herald writer Scott DeJulia
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