Girls aim to build on foundation
From the midway point of last year’s basketball season, the Whitehall girls basketball team began laying the foundation for what could be a very bright upcoming season.
After some early struggles, they went 6-7 down the stretch, finally posting a 7-15 mark. That turnaround, coupled with their familiarity with second-year coach Josh Madas’ scheme and style, illustrates that the girls have the ability to build on that success once they step onto the court this season. It’s something that Madas has observed during the offseason as the players have demonstrated their desire to make this year noteworthy as witnessed by their attendance in the weight room and the basketball court two days a week.
That desire to make this season special is led by a strong senior group that includes Grace Clary, Cassie Due, Katie Kelly, Jaraye Jackson and Kristin Laky. They’ll form the backbone of this year’s squad, a group that’s looking to make their final season wearing maroon and gold as memorable as possible.
“They’re really putting their heart and soul into this season,” said Madas. “And most importantly, we want to improve upon where we left off.”
Madas said that they’ve been continually improving since their win over Emmaus in their final game last winter. Their commitment to their offseason regimen, and their performance during their summer schedule is witness to that, he said. It’s now a matter of translating all that time and perpetration into the upcoming year.
“We really feel positive heading into this season,” said Madas.
In the frontcourt the Zephs will feature, Clary, junior Joey Shaul, along with sophomores Olivia Hines and Amaya Alvarez.
Madas said that Clary will move to the No. 3 position so they can better utilize her skill set. Her length allows her to see the floor well, and as an adept outside shooter, she has the ability to take the open look or distribute it for a better option.
“It puts the ball in her hands a little more,” said Madas. “It also opens up more opportunities to make things happen.”
He said that move wouldn’t have been possible without the progress of both Shaul and Alvarez, giving him the flexibility to unchain Clary from the paint.
“It allows us that freedom,” he said.
Also in that frontcourt mix will be Jackson. Madas said that Jackson will basically play all over the place as she brings a relentless energy to the court.
“She lifts up the team when she’s in,” Madas said.
The backcourt will feature seniors Due, Kelly and Laky, along with junior Meghan Hutter, and newcomer Isabella Fonzone, a freshman.
He said there’s still competition at all the guard spots. In fact, that competition has permeated every position as the players compete with one another for minutes.
Unfortunately they received a setback when Ella Laky, who was set to run the point this season, broke her leg. Madas said that Laky’s injury was a big loss since it will be hard to replace the energy and motor she plays with on the court. Her absence will open those minutes to Due, Hutter and Fonzone, said Madas.
Madas said that once again they’ll rely on a strong defense to set the tone. He said their defensive philosophy of aggressive pressure will be a pillar of this year’s success. It will also help ignite their transition game where his players have the ability to either drive to the basket or pull it out and set up the half court offense.
“We look to defend and force turnovers, and push it in transition as much as we can,” said Madas.
The Zephyrs are replete with experience up and down their roster. That will be another big boost as they prepare to battle in the always hypercompetitive Skyline Division of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. He said that this year’s senior class has made it known during the offseason that they want to play in the district tournament this season. It’s something that this class has yet to do, and he’s seen the preparation toward that goal as they begin play Dec. 6 at home versus Northwestern.