HOUTZDALE — The Moshannon Valley girls basketball team returns just two letterwinners from last year’s 14-9 playoff squad.
That includes just one starter in Aubrey Dotts, who is the lone senior on the team. Junior Sydney Bubb, who saw extensive action off the bench, also returns.
But the biggest change for the Damsels will be at the helm, where Jillian Kane takes over for 2018-19 Progressland Coach of the Year Mary Jo Kitko.
Kane has plenty of experience and success on the court too. She was a standout player in Ridgefield Park, N.J., where she helped lead her team to back-to-back State Sectional Championships and a County Title Championship.
She was a 1,000-plus point scorer at the school and eventually moved on to the college ranks where she played at both Rowan University and William Paterson University in New Jersey.
After college, she helped coach middle school and varsity basketball at Ridgefield Park for five years. She is now the elementary art teacher at MVHS.
So far, Kane has been trying to implement her system and getting to know her players.
“I have been working on instilling my new offenses, a 1-3-1 defense, press break, and full court/half court press into this program,” she said.
Kane said she will rely heavily on Dotts and Bubb, not only for their experience, but their leadership.
“Aubrey Dotts’ leadership, as the only senior on the team this year, will carry our team throughout the season,” said Kane. “Sydney Bubb will be a dangerous outside shooter. She is quick and all over the floor.
“With Aubrey and Sydney’s varsity experience, working together as a team will be our biggest strength this season.”
Kane plans to start both Dotts and Bubb, along with junior Abby Wilson, sophomore Emily Davis and freshmen Sophia Demko.
The Damsels have just 10 players on the roster, with half of those sophomores.
That will be a drastic change from a year ago, which saw Moshannon Valley start four seniors in Progressland first teamer Emma Kitko, Chloe Blake, Alexis Knepp and McKenzie McCoy.
Still Kane expects that her team will step up.
“We will be a young, but tough team this year,” said Kane. “I expect to fill these holes with my tough and dedicated players, like any other team.”
A lot of that confidence comes from the effort the girls showed Kane in the offseason and so far during the preseason.
“The girls are dedicated and put some work in during the off season,” she said. “They continue to display improvements. With the girls positive attitudes and hard work ethic, this season is their opportunity to rebuild what they truly want in a team. They are all also Honor and High Honor Society students.”
Kane said her goals for the team may differ from what many young squads might.
“My goal for this season is to always wear your heart on your sleeve,” she said. “You can’t teach heart! I believe with our positive attitudes and hard work ethic, this season is our opportunity to rebuild what we truly want in a team.”
Kane will be assisted by Kitko’s longtime assistant Melanie Dotts. Jeff Bubb and Jim Stodart will run the junior high.
Moshannon Valley opens the season on Friday at Philipsburg-Osceola. The game is varsity only beginning at 6:30 p.m.
*Sydney Bubb, Abby Wilson.
Emily Davis, Reagan Domanick, Abby Gilson, Rashelle Greenawalt, Emily Murawski.
Sophia Demko, Annabelle Johnson.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.
6—at Philipsburg-Osceola, 6:30 p.m. 9—at Glendale. 11—Curwensville. 13—Williamsburg. 17—West Branch. 26—at Williamsburg Christmas Tournament, TBA. 27—at Williamsburg Christmas Tournament, TBA.
3—Claysburg-Kimmel. 10—at Bellwood-Antis. 14—at Juniata Valley. 15—Bald Eagle Area. 17—Mount Union. 20—Glendale. 22—at Harmony. 23—at Williamsburg. 27—at West Branch, 6:30 p.m. 30—at Claysburg-Kimmel.
3—Bellwood-Antis. 4—Harmony. 6—Juniata Valley. 10—at Mount Union. 12—at Curwensville.
All games begin at 7:15 p.m. unless noted.