In his third season as the head girls' basketball coach, Lance Binegar has learned quite a bit about his team's strengths and weaknesses and what it could and could not do. He brings that knowledge with him to open the 2013-14 season.
One of this year's strengths will be height. Binegar has three players over six foot tall, and will try to have as many as two of them on the floor.
Starting with 6'1" centers Madison Arnolds and Melanie Thomas - the Twin Towers - down to 6' Erin Brown, the 'Jills will finally have some taller trees to put inside the paint, both offensively and defensively.
Brown saw the most action last season, while Arnolds saw her fair share of playing time, too. Thomas will most likely come off the bench, while Karissa Headley, Alisha Carter and Sarah Bassett will fill the remaining starting slots.
Headley will handle the rock, and, with her experience, she should be able to handle any situation. She is also a great team player and rebounder. If she can knock down her outside shot and penetrate, so the sky's the limit.
Besides Headley, Arnolds and Thomas, the Lumberjills have a flock of talent on the varsity to rely on when the going gets tough. Forwards Bassett and Carter should give the Lumberjill faithful something to get excited about.
And, when Binegar can bring Thomas, Megan Martin, Kaitlyn Brown and Cassidy Price off the bench, the Valley Lumberjills could surprise a lot of teams this season.
Bassett and Carter are both capable players that can shoot from the outside, rebound and play one-on-one defense. Bassett is an exceptional defender and rebounder, who can mix it up with the best of them. Carter is a scorer that can drain the outside shot from anywhere in the half court.
"We will shoot, pass, rebound and play good old fashioned man-to-man defense," said Binegar. "And I'm very pleased the way the girls have come along. We will have some fun and will look forward to having a very competitive season."
The coach added, "If we have a weakness, it's our inexperience. Our strength as a team is our conditioning and the leadership role 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 Marah Dudgeon, Bailea Underwood and Cassidy West.
"With only having 12 girls out and only two seniors, everyone will play jayvee ball except Headley and Carter," added Binegar. "We are allowed five quarters a game and we want the younger girls to play and gain that experience that you only get with playing time.
"Our team goal is like every other small school girls' basketball team: play hard, do our best and win the HIT. This is the second season for girls' basketball in the small school tournament."
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.
The Lumberjills will open their season at home against the Clarksburg Notre Dame Lady Irish Dec. 3 with a 7 p.m. tip off. Valley will then participate in the Bob and Sharon Burton Holiday Tournament Dec. 6-7.