GIRLS Basketball Preview Despite injuries, Lady Mounts should challenge
For the second straight season, a promising Ephrata girls basketball team was dealt a huge blow from the outset.
Last year, the Lady Mounts expected to challenge in Section Two before sensational sophomore forward Sarah Shearer transferred to West York.
And while they still turned in a respectable season, finishing 8-8 in section play (9-12 overall), Shearer’s presence might have been enough to turn a good season into a great one.
This year, Ephrata figured to be in the hunt again, and the Lady Mounts still may be with the emergence last year of then freshman guard Kelly Liebl and then junior forward Sarah Haddon, who averaged 8.7 and 10 points respectively.
However, it will be a lot tougher after seeing not one but two key players go down for the year with ACL injuries in the off season.
Starting senior point guard Joelisa Harvest (8.0 points per game) and key senior reserve Hannah Raezer both were lost this summer and now the Lady Mounts must pick up the pieces again.
But despite those key losses, Ephrata is definitely not dwelling on it and seems better equipped to handle it this year. And with four starters back in the fold, many believe the Lady Mounts still have enough in the tank to contend in what appears to be a wide-open Section Two.
Ephrata split the first two games of the season this past weekend, defeating Manheim Central, 45-22 Friday night before losing to Fleetwood, 35-30 on Saturday.
Monday afternoon, Ephrata Review Sports Editor Todd Ruth caught up with Coach Mike Garman, who is beginning his 12th year, to discuss the upcoming season. The following is a transcript of that conversation.
Todd Ruth: You lost both returning starter Joelisa Harvest and Hannah Raezer, who would have given you some good minutes this year. Talk about losing them.
Mike Garman: It was bad enough when we lost Hannah this summer because she would have been a great kid to bring off the bench because she got a taste of it last year and was starting to really come into her own. You could just tell…She was really beginning to enjoy basketball and I think would have really helped us this year and given us a body. She’s a banger. She’s very physical. She’s a scrapper.
Then with (Harvest)…she tore her ACL in the first five minutes of a game this fall up at King’s College. What are the odds to have two girls tear their ACLs in the same year? It’s unfortunate, but you have to go on and overcome it, as tough as that will be.
TR: How have the kids adjusted to not playing with those two?
MG: I think what we are trying to do right now is figure all of this out. It’s one of those things. You can practice for three weeks but you are practicing against a different element than you are in a game. The things you are trying to learn about your team as far as personnel is concerned is who is going to be able to step up for you? Who is going to contribute and how long will that take till they start to develop into that role, whatever it may be? Those are things right now that we are still working on.
The girls, to their credit, they’ve been doing a great job and have been working very hard. They want to do well this year and there is no doubt in my mind. They are very determined. This is a setback but yet I think they will find a way. It was good this past weekend because playing those two games really gave me a much better idea. I was very impressed, eventhough we didn’t play well Saturday, that they didn’t give up and fought like crazy. They really battled, and I was very proud of them for that. When you don’t play well but still compete, that’s a step in the right direction.
TR: I would think depth is a bit of a concern for you. I know you have players like junior guard Irene Lascarides (5-6) and junior forward Kirsten Ueberroth (5-8), along with seniors Olivia Rickenbach (5-6, G) and Morgan Fasnacht (5-9, F) stepping into some roles. How deep do you think you can go on your bench?
MG: I’m still trying to figure that out. I don’t mean to be evasive but I’m just being honest. I really don’t know. I think between Kirsten, Irene, Oliva and Morgan…they are going to have to come off the bench and contribute. The key for us this year is if they can come off and contribute something, it’s going to help us a lot. Does it have to be 15 points between them? Of course not. And I think they will. People don’t realize when you start to play varsity basketball after playing JV…there is a learning curve.
TR: Obviously you are without your point guard, but you still have four starters back in senior guard Hannah Reimel (5-8), senior forwards Haddon (5-11) and Sarah Hoffer (5-10) and Liebl, the sophomore. That’s a good unit from which to start?
MG: Having those girls back is a blessing. We are not going to dwell on the injuries and we don’t want to feel sorry for ourselves. The four girls back, you look at what they’ve done in the off season and they worked extremely hard. They did the P90X in the spring, and in the summer came in three days a week. They worked on their own, did a lot of skill work…They put a lot of time in.
They definitely have their sights set on winning the section championship. That’s important to them. Can they pull it off? Only time will tell. But I think through their hard work, I think it’s easier when you work hard on something, when things do get a little tougher you have something to draw from. Kelly fortunately had a very good year as a ninth grader and I think she’ll only get better. I think she’s trying to find her way right now but she is going to contribute in a lot of ways. Her role as it was last year is now very different. There is a learning curve there but she’ll get it. Hannah has become very offensive minded. She played really well this weekend. Hannah has really stepped up.
TR: Let’s talk about Sarah Haddon. Last year she really came into her own as a low-post scorer. What are your expectations from her?
MG: She has worked very hard, and I think the thing I’m noticing is offensively her skills are getting better. She’s shooting the ball better, and you can just tell she has a different level of confidence about what she is trying to do on the court. And she realizes as a senior this year, this is her time. She is certainly displaying that, and it’s a nice thing to see because she’s worked really hard at it.
And Sarah Hoffer played great this weekend. She had a double-double (11 points & 13 rebounds against Manheim Central). She’s really looking to score and is looking to be more offensive minded. She’s looking good, and we all have to play defense. We played man and we played zone, and we’ve actually had some good success with zone so we’ll use whatever we need to do to try to slow people down. The four returnees, collectively, each have a significant role and they all realize what that is. They’ve all improved from last year.
TR: And if they do that, and you get contributions from the others, do you feel they have a shot to contend?
MG: We are definitely going to need people other than those four, whomever that may be. Their contributions will be critical to the success of this team. And if we can get them on board quickly and playing with confidence, and doing some good things…I know they can, and that’s going to help us a lot. If they struggle then it will be a stretch.
We’ve got some obstacles to overcome but if there is a group of kids that can do it I really believe this group can. They’ve got a great work ethic, a great attitude and they all have tremendous respect for one another. And they’ve put in time in the off-season.
TR: In the section, Solanco still has Gillian Glackin, a 1,000-point scorer, in the mix. Do you feel they still are the team to beat?
MG: I would say right now Solanco probably would have to be the team I would put right there. Glackin is a force. She is just a very good player but I think we can compete with them. Glackin has always been a struggle for us to contend with as a match-up, but last year when we played them the second time I thought we did a much better job on her. I think the kids believe that if they play together that we can maybe find a way to slow her down a little bit.
I think Cocalico and E-town are going to be right there too. I think so much of it depends on who starts to play well, and who is playing well individually, and are there any injuries that come into play…There are so many factors.
I just like our kids a lot. I just like a lot of things about them. You look at wins and losses, and we all want to win, but when you look at the big picture and you see a group of individuals who are something special to you and will give you everything they have, what more can you ask?
We got to get Kelly scoring, and we have to figure out that fifth piece of the puzzle. I haven’t figured that out yet. They are a great group and I just wish them the best and hope they can do it. More LADY MOUNTS, page B-6