PHILIPSBURG — After losing three starters to graduation, including its top three scorers, the Philipsburg-Osceola girls basketball team will have some holes to fill when the season begins on Tuesday.
The Lady Mounties are coming off a 4-18 season, where they averaged close to 28 points per game.
Most of that scoring came from Kyleigh Kennedy, who led the team in points (11.44 per game) rebounds (9.94) and blocks (2.4).
The rest of the team’s offense came from fellow seniors Lindsey Bordas and Samantha Bainey. Bordas (7.86 ppg) and Bainey (5.6 ppg).
Back for the Lady Mounties are juniors Cassie Butterworth, Ruby Pinto and Ivy Reed and sophomores Camden Potter (2.77 ppg) and Reagan Thorp, who led Progressland in free throw percentage last season.
Senior Alayna Webster, who spent much of last season hampered by injuries is also returning.
Head coach Brandon Myers said the team will definitely have some holes to fill to replace Bainey, Bordas and Kennedy.
“I think it’s quite an understatement to say we will miss Sam, Lindsey and Kyleigh,” Myers said. “We will miss their leadership on and off the court, they were great.
“However, we’ve got some girls that I think will step up to lead us nicely as we continue to rebuild the program. Right now the girls we have back are doing a good job of leading by example, but we are missing that true vocal leader we had in Lindsey Bordas last year. It will come, we are just very young and still developing.”
While Myers hasn’t nailed down a solid starting five yet, he says they have tried out some different combinations.
“There are still a few things we are figuring out before our first game, I think we will run a few different looks on the floor,” he said. “We expect Reagan Thorp and Camden Potter to continue to be our two mainstays, that’s why they started every game last year as freshmen.
“We’re excited to have Alayna Webster back from a couple of injuries that kind of squandered her junior season; she’ll spend a lot of time in the post with Reagan.
“Camden and freshman Khendyl Sharrer will be our primary wings; Cassie Butterworth will factor in there as well. I think maybe the most crucial addition to our offense is our new point guard –freshman Olivia Hutton. She has a lot to learn, especially playing in the Mountain League, but we’ve got full confidence in her and we’re really anxious to see what she can do with the keys to the offense.”
The Lady Mounties have just 10 girls listed on the varsity roster, but they do have a full junior varsity team to pull from if need be.
“For where we’re at as a program, to be able to have 10 girls that can give quality varsity minutes is very beneficial –9 of those girls will return next year,” said Myers. “We’ve got some different looks that we can run on the floor; for example, there may be times where we’re running with five guards just so that we can try to pick up the tempo and create turnovers.”
Still, Myers said he is pleased with where the team is right now just a few days from their opener.
“The biggest positive about our girls is their effort,” he said. “Wherever they’re at, whether it be the gym, the weight room or the classroom, they’re there to get better.
“They know we’re not where we want to be yet, we talk about it all the time and that really drives them. Our group of freshmen have meshed really nicely with our returning players and our coaching staff is pleased with our progress so far.”
Because of the amount of younger players, Myers said they are still working on plenty.
“We are working on just about everything you could imagine in the game of basketball,” he said. “In a short amount of time we’ve been working on our offense, putting in a new defense and a new press all while making sure we are in shape to run with the teams in the Mountain League.
“We had six practices before the shutdown, we weren’t permitted to have our conditioning week prior to those and we have basically one week until we play our first game so fitting everything in to that small window has been difficult but we’ve been hard at work.”
Myers said the team has had the chance to sit down and discuss the goals it has for the season.
“Our overall goal as a program since I took over last year has been to improve every single day,” Myers said. “This continues to be our goal and the girls continue to reach it day in and day out.
“We have talked about our program’s rebuild as being a journey. We always want to take the correct next step in our journey. I think this year the correct step is to have our young team’s basketball knowledge improve and be competitive in every game, all while staying safe and healthy on and off the court.”
Myers will be assisted once again by Briana Rusnak, who will coach the junior varsity team, in addition to Brittany Butterworth and Haylee Hayward.
“I have been absolutely blessed with an amazing coaching staff,” Myers said. Briana Rusnak and Brittany Butterworth are both returning and we’ve also added Haylee Hayward to our staff. Those are three Mountain League greats we’re talking about, our program is very fortunate to have them.”
Philipsburg-Osceola opens the season on Tuesday at Bellefonte.
*Cassie Butterworth, *Ruby Pinto, *Ivy Reed, Audrey Smith.
*Camden Potter, *Reagan Thorp.
Megan Holencik, Olivia Hutton, Khendyl Sharrer.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.
12—at Bellefonte. 15—Central. 16—at Clearfield, 3:30 p.m. 18—Clearfield. 21—Bald Eagle Area. 25—at Tyrone. 28—at Huntingdon. 30—East Juniata.
1—Penns Valley. 4—Bellefonte. 8—at Central. 10—at Moshannon Valley. 11—at Curwensville. 13—at Penns Valley. 15—Curwensville. 16—at Bald Eagle Area. 19—Huntingdon. 22—Tyrone. 24—St. Joseph’s Academy. 25—Harmony.
All games begin at 7:30 p.m. unless noted.