It’s unclear which players will ultimately fill leadership roles and carry the scoring burden for the Centreville girls basketball team this year, but it will be a disciplined squad if new coach Jill Peterson has her way.
The Bulldogs enter the 2013-14 campaign having lost five seniors from last year’s team to graduation — a group that represented 71-percent of the program’s points. Promoted from the junior varsity ranks, Peterson takes over the program from Corey Smith, who is now coaching the boys team and led Centreville to a 7-14 overall record last winter and a 2-4 mark in the St. Joseph Valley League, which was good for third place among four teams.
The cupboard isn’t bare, but even some of the squad’s older players still aren’t quite ripe, Peterson said.
“There are four returners this season, each playing their second year of varsity,” she said. “Two additional seniors are first-time varsity players after taking a break from basketball in their junior year, in addition to three new juniors and four new sophomores.”
Peterson was a fairly late hire and admits the program is playing catch-up, but she plans to build a competitive unit based on fundamentals.
“On both offense and defense we want to e disciplined and efficient in our actions,” she said. “Offensively, we’ll push the ball when we can, but will take care of and work the ball for a good show when a fast break isn’t there. Defensively, we’ll be looking to use our preparation and grit to wear the offense down. We’ll work together to try to knock the opponent off their game.”
An experienced frontcourt bodes well for the Bulldogs with seniors Charity Yeager (5-foot-6) and Rudie Crawford (5-7) returning. Yeager is dealing with an injury suffered three weeks ago but is expected to be ready for the opener against Howardsville on Dec. 3. Crawford appeared in all 21 games as a junior and started 14 of them. Peterson said Crawford has a quick post move from the block and nice touch that extends out to 15 feet from the basket. The two combined for 4.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game last year.
Junior Faith Morell (5-7) is another player that can get it done inside.
“With a calm, quiet demeanor off the court, it’s amazing how aggressive and powerful she can be when she steps on the hardwood,” Peterson said of Morell. “We’ll look to her to bring the strength and power down low.”
Fellow junior Jenna Beeker is back to run the offense at point guard after starting 16 games as a sophomore. Beeker’s 489 minutes logged last season is by far the most of the returning players, and she’s the team’s biggest deep-ball threat after knocking down 11 of 41 3-pointers (26.8 percent). She dished out 47 assists and scored 4.4 points per game last winter, but she didn’t let the post players do all the dirty work on the glass. Beeker grabbed 72 rebounds, including 37 on the defensive end.
“She’s able to run the show with great composure,” Peterson said of Beeker. “In addition to her outside shooting, she’s also able to attack the interior and dish or hit the layup.”
Seniors Catherine Rigby (5-6) and Dezarae Marshall (5-4) are back after a one-year hiatus and Rigby should be a valuable backup at the point. Marshall adds versatility with the ability to play inside and out.
Sophomores Bailey May (5-9) and Madison Hunter (5-8) spent most of last season on the junior varsity squad under Peterson, who said May “has a great knack for anticipating rebounds and finishes well inside,” and Hunter, one of the team’s most athletic players “can hit the 3 and jumper on the perimeter or hold her own in the post.” Like Hunter, May appeared in two varsity contests.
A trio of juniors in Mattie Kirby (5-5), Becky Clementz (5-6) and Annmarie Reed (5-9) suit up on varsity for the first time. Kirby is another player that can handle the point responsibilities if necessary and is working on explosiveness and consistency from the perimeter. Clementz also registered time at PG and is “a pest on defense,” Peterson said. Reed is disruptive defensively and gets up and down the court quickly.
Madison Eazsol (5-7) and Sam Lewis (5-5) are sophomores joining the varsity crew for the first time.
“Eazsol is another player that can play both inside and out and brings great intensity on the defensive end of the court,” Peterson said. “She can be a lockdown defender and is very smart off the ball as a help-side defender, which greatly benefits the team defensive concept. “Lewis played a majority of last season on JV in the wing position and has began this season doing a great job of getting to the basket and dishing passes that lead to scores from her teammates. It’s a great strength for her and fun to watch.”
Getting to the foul line more, as well as converting once they do, is something the Bulldogs hope to improve on this season after shooting 53.6 percent from the stripe and getting 117 fewer opportunities than the competition.
There are other big-picture items to check off the list first.
“We challenged the girls in many different areas and their responses are very promising,” Peterson said. “They seem to have a good grasp of the vision of the program and have bought into what we’re trying to accomplish as a staff. I’m excited to see what the season holds, not only for what we accomplish on the hardwood, but also for what happens beyond the season in their lives.”