In his second season as the head girls' basketball coach, Lance Binegar learned quite a bit last year about his teams' strengths and weaknesses and what they could and could not do. He brings that knowledge with him to open the 2012-13 season.
One of this year's strengths must be the return of senior Megan Bucher (5'9"). She was one of the top players in just about every category on offense as well as defense. Bucher always has a smile on her face and gives more than 100 percent at all things that she does, including basketball.
Bucher is the team leader and is by far the team's best outside shooter, rebounder, and passer. She loves the game and it shows, on and off the court. "Her play speaks for itself. Period," stated Binegar.
However, Binegar will have to find capable replacements for the graduated Dani Hayes at point guard and the off guard slot vacated by the graduations of Holli Schell and Annaliese Henderson.
Look no farther than Bucher, who will shift to point guard from the forward position, while Karissa Headley (5'10") will move into the off guard position. They both are good shooters. With Bucher at point and Headley at guard, they both will surely get plenty of opportunities in a run-and-gun type of offense that Binegar learned when he played at Frontier Local in 2004.
"Bucher can handle any situation at the point and is a great team player and rebounder," said Binegar.
Besides Bucher and Headley, the Lumberjills have a flock of talent on the varsity to rely on when the going gets tough, including forward Brittany Sivert (5'8"), center Samantha Thomas (5'10"), and forward Sarah Bassett (5'7"). Asisha Carter (5'7") and Abby Willey (5'3") will each come off the bench and fill in where needed.
Bucher and Headley will start at guard, while Sivert will team with Bassett at the forward slot and Thomas will control the paint. Fluharty, Carter, and first-year player Willey will spell Sivert and Bassett. Freshman Madison Arnolds (6') will give Thomas a break at the post. With the run-until-you-drop philosophy that Binegar likes to play, the 'Jills will learn to play each others' positions.
Sivert and Bassett are both capable players that can shoot from the outside, rebound, and play one-on-one defense. Thomas is an exceptional defender and rebounder, but needs to work on her shooting and her conditioning.
Bucher and Headley are probably the team's best outside shooters, while Bucher, Sivert, Bassett, and Thomas all pull down their fare share of rebounds.
"We will shoot, pass, rebound, and play good old fashioned man-to-man defense," said Binegar. My assistant coach, Heather Brown, and I are very pleased with the way the girls have come along, especially our freshmen. We look forward to having a very competitive season."
The coach went on to say, "If we have a weakness, its our inexperience. Our strengths as a team are our conditioning and the leadership role of our upperclassmen, on and off the court. If anyone starts anything at all, they take care of it. Their philosophy is, 'Just play basketball and let the coaches coach.'"
The junior varsity team will showcase the same type of offense and defense the varsity plays. And it seems to have picked up the scheme of things pretty well. Members of the junior varsity include sophomores Sammi Roberts (5'4); Megan Martin (5'4"); and freshmen Becca Headley (5'10"); Bailey Underwood (5'3"); Brianna Harris (5'3"); Cassidy Price (5'8"); Marah Dudgeon (5'7"); Erin Brown (5'11"); Larissa Pingley (5'6"); and Kaitlyn Brown (5'9").
"Our team goal is like every other small school girls' basketball team: play hard, do our best, and win the H.I.T. This is the first season for girls' basketball in this small school tournament," added Binegar.
With Magnolia and Tyler Consolidated joining the Class-A ranks, the area sectionals will have a new look and makes it that much harder to get to the state tournament.
In Region I, Section I, it's Bishop Donahue, Cameron, Hundred, Madonna, Magnolia, and Wheeling Central, while in Section II it's Clay Battelle, St. Marys, Paden City, Trinity, Tyler Consolidated, and Valley.
The Lumberjills will open their season Nov. 27 against Clarksburg Notre Dame with a 7 p.m. tip off. Valley will then take on the Paden City Lady Wildcats in the Bob and Sharon Burton Holiday Tournament Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m.; and, on Dec. 1, in either the championship or consolation game.