Lumberjills Ready To Make Noise In 2009
Valley Head Girls’ Basketball Coach Larry Weekley, in his 24th season, will have to replace two all state players this season. Sammy Frye and Alexandra Higginbotham were lost to graduation, as was three-point specialist Marci Bucher, who also was first-off-the-bench.
This year, it may not be as hard as last year to get off to a good start because of eight experienced players returning from last season.
Starters Aly Weber, Lauren Ueltschy, and Lesta Kocher have returned to mesh with Hannah Shaw, Morgan Starkey, Jackie Greathouse, Brittany Guthrie, and Kassie Edgell, all of whom saw considerable playing time last season.
Weekley and fifth-year assistant Tim Starkey plays lots of players and it has paid off in the past. Underclassmen Leah Morris, Tiffany Hayes, Amanda Arnett, Aly Ashcraft, and Heidi Shaw will somehow find their way on the gym floor as well as newcomers Dani Hayes, Holly Sell, Katie Midcap, and Rebecca Smith.
“We will shoot, pass, and rebound and play good old fashion defense the way we have been playing the last 24 years,” said Weekley. Kocher is the lone player back who scored double digits last season. In addition, she has led the team in rebounds the last two seasons and is the best foul shooter on the team.
Weber has more than just a little court time. She has played on the varsity team three of her four seasons and has proved to be ready to showcase her talents. An excellent rebounder and clutch shooter, she also is the team leader.
Ueltschy is steady, day in and day out. She rebounds, plays that “good old fashion defense” and can shoot the rock from outside. Shaw is quite the player. She, along with Kocher, Weber, and Ueltschy are all 5’8” and are all capable of rebounding and scoring 10 points a game.
Another 5’8″ player that has the wing span of a six footer is Greathouse. An excellent defender, she is a tremendous shot blocker and rebounder. Edgell stepped up and did a good job last season, but will need to put it in high gear if she doesn’t want a handful of younger ‘Jills to move in on her playing time.
Also stepping up from junior varsity are Starkey, Guthrie and Tiffany Hayes to fill the void left by Frye and Higginbotham. They aren’t up to their talents, yet; but don’t be surprised to see Starkey and Guthrie play similar roles. Guthrie looks to be the play maker, while Starkey will put the ball in the hoop.
Opposing teams can’t shut down just one or two players. The ‘Jills have someone different to put in play at any time. And, that is what Weekley wants. “Every night we have someone different step up,” he remarked. “And when teams stop one player, another one steps up to take over.”
New to the Valley schedule this season is Tyler Consolidated and Wirt County, which replace Jefferson Christian and the Linsly School. The new look of the Lumberjills is more speed and quickness — characteristics needed to replace speedster Frye.
“We have a good group of girls out who are working hard,” said Weekley. “All my players are athletes and we will be better. Not just because I say so; it’s because they want to be.”
Valley will try to improve from a 13-8 record in the 2007-08 campaign at home at 7 p.m. on Dec. 9 against Notre Dame. Then, it will be on to the Annual Tip-off Classic at Bob Burton Gymnasium in Paden City Dec. 12-13.