Despite low turnout for this year’s senior girls’ basketball team at Elmira District Secondary School, the team handily won their season opener last week.
The girls defeated Forest Heights Collegiate Institute 43-11 in their first game of the season at home on Sept. 22.
“We only have eight players on the team, so they’re going to be in good shape,” said coach Brian Carter. “We have five girls new to senior and three returning, so it’ll certainly be a learning season, a developmental year for sure.”
Natalie Mayer, Jackie Wideman and Sami Martin are three of the players who moved up to senior this year he expects to be strong leaders in the league.
“They had a very good year in Grade 10, so they’ll certainly be good,” Carter said.
He says their returning girls bring experience and size to the team, noting they’ve actually got some good height on the team.
“Stephanie Ball is one of our post players and Cobi Morris is pretty versatile, she can play post and wing. Carly Borutskie is our third returning player and she’s a guard. She’s a good defender,” Carter said.
Hannah Kavanagh joined the team this year having never played basketball before. He says he’s already seeing improvement in her. Emilia Mercante rounds out the roster.
He was happy with how the team played against Forest Heights, despite that team typically being one of the weaker ones in the league.“They rebounded extremely well, both on the offensive side and the defensive side. I thought they played really well team defense, they supported each other. And we held Forest Heights down to 11 points, so that’s pretty impressive,” Carter said.
Usually they like to have at least 10 or 11 players. This decline to just eight is a trend he’s seen over the last few years. Playing soccer and hockey outside of school this time of year can keep girls from playing high school basketball, but also once they’re in the senior level they’re more likely to have part-time jobs.
“It’s becoming more and more competitive for their time. And in junior they don’t worry as much about homework and their grades. In senior they start to make decisions based on that as well. They feel like they have a busy semester so they’d rather focus on school. You get the hardcore basketball players that just want to play basketball. It’s the other girls that like basketball, but it’s not their life, that sometimes decide making money for school is more important or studying and they don’t have time. It’s tough,” Carter said.
Regardless, he says the team is ready to play and he’s excited to work with them, especially players he’s never coached before.
“They’re enthusiastic and because there’s only eight of them we talked in the preseason and they are committed. They’re out at every practice, they’re at every game and it’s nice to see the commitment. And that’ll certainly help them as far as trying to improve,” Carter said.
They don’t have any long-term goals, but in the short term they want to improve each game and fine-tune some concepts they’re working on to be competitive by the end of the year.
“Obviously we want to reach the playoffs and then basically what we want to do is just be better and better until the playoffs start and then once the playoffs start we can put our best foot forward and see what happens,” Carter said.
They faced Grand River Collegiate Institute on Sept. 27, losing 46-37, and return home today (Sept. 29) to play Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School. They’re home again on Oct. 4 at 4:45 p.m.