PHILIPSBURG — The Philipsburg-Osceola girls basketball team has been in rebuild mode the last few years with just one senior on last year’s team.
This year, the Lady Mounties return four letterwinners with a solid core.
“We’re really looking for our four letterwinners – Cassie Butterworth, Camden Potter, Reagan Thorp and Khendyl Sharrer – to continue to improve as well as to be team leaders who help guide our younger girls through the difficult Mountain League,” said Lady Mounties head coach Brandon Myers. “We have a lot of girls who only have around one year of varsity experience.”
That includes sophomores, like Sharrer, who were pressed into service as freshmen.
“Since I have been at PO, I haven’t been afraid to start freshmen who I think won’t be intimidated by varsity minutes,” Myers said. “Camden Potter and Reagan Thorp are going into their junior season with two years of varsity experience and I really look for them to start slowing the game down in front of them and ultimately put together a nice season.
“As we get our younger girls, even in middle school, involved in higher level situations it will pay dividends in their futures.”
The Lady Mounties will have to fill the loss of Alayna Webster, who as a senior was the team’s top rebounder and now serves as a volunteer assistant.
“Rebounding is going to have to be a team effort this season more than in recent seasons,” said Myers. “Alayna was on pace for over 150 boards last year before our makeup games turned into cancellations –that is a big hole to fill.
“In past years we have had the luxury of Alayna Webster in the low post and Kyleigh Kennedy before her. We’re in a different position now which just means we have to work harder than everyone else.”
The Lady Mounties do have a few players listed at 5-9, but Myers said having the height doesn’t always translate into rebounds.
“We do have a couple girls who are listed at 5’9” – we hope to see them gain another inch or two.
“Our leaping ability, however, is still a work-in-progress. We have a strength program in place so that all of our girls can box out more efficiently and jump higher.”
Myers said the girls have continued to work hard and haven’t shied away from continuing the rebuidling process, even if that means tough losses at stages.
“I think the biggest positive about our group is that they’re hungry for success. This is now year three of rebuilding and rebranding this program and they’re ready to start winning some games.
“While we have encountered some unfortunate departures from last season, we have a group of girls in the gym every night that want our program to do well.”
The Lady Mounties have been working on several things, mainly getting back into top shape for the always-tough Mountain League season.
“So far, the biggest thing we’ve been focusing on is getting in shape,” said Myers. “We are working hard in the gym to not only be in shape for our first game, but also to be in shape for our last game. We run drills that involve as much continuous movement as possible and we’re in the weight room multiple times a week doing circuit workouts.”
Myers said he’s starting five is going to revolve around the core of letterwinners, but there are others up for a starting position.
“At the end of last season, I think I would’ve told you we would probably have the same starting five for two more years,” he said. “We have endured a bit of adversity this offseason and a lot of minutes are now up for grabs.
“We do have our core of Khendyl Sharrer, Camden Potter and Reagan Thorp back which is huge for us.
“We look for Cassie Butterworth, Ivy Reed and Audrey Smith to make an impact as seniors – Ivy and Audrey just missed lettering last year due to some injuries.
“We also look for Lily Warlow to come in as a freshman and make a big impact at point guard. She worked well with our girls in our offseason league and we have full confidence in her moving forward.”
Myers said the goals continue to be basic and attainable for the squad.
“Our biggest goal outside of continuous improvement is to have all of our girls be in shape for the entirety of the season,” he said. “We believe that if each player is in their top shape we will finally break through and win the games we’re supposed to win this year. We want every girl to be able to say they gave everything they had when our season wraps up.”
New for the Lady Mounties will be hosting a tip-off tournament in honor of the late former Lady Mountie standout Taylor Harpster, a good friend of Myers.
“I am so excited for this tournament to happen,” Myers said. “I have been working closely with Matt Curtis and our Athletic Department for almost two years to bring it to fruition.
“Taylor was perhaps the best all-around athlete to ever wear “Lady Mounties” across her chest and she also excelled in the classroom.
“Having the privilege of being her friend for so many years, I want to do as much as I can to pay homage to her legacy and give back as much as I can to her scholarship fund, the THARP Memorial Scholarship Fund.
“I think this is an amazing opportunity for our community and communities close by to come together and do just that. We plan on this being a successful, annual event and celebration.”
Once again, Myers will be assists by Briana Rusnak and Brittany Curtis, the same two assistants he has had with him since he took over the program.
“Briana Rusnak and Brittany Curtis have been an absolute Godsend to our program over the last 2+ years,” Myers said. “They bring an awesome combination of experience, grit and love to every practice and every game our girls are so lucky to have them.
“We have also added two more volunteer assistants this year in former Lady Mounties Kyleigh Kennedy and Alayna Webster who can bring a lot to the table for our program. I am truly grateful for our coaches.”
Philipsburg-Osceola opens the season on Dec. 10, playing Moshannon Valley in the opening round of the Taylor Harpster Memorial Tournament.
*Cassie Butterworth, Ruby Pinto, Abby Rammage, Ivy Reed, Lauren Sinclair, Audrey Smith.
*Camden Potter, *Reagan Thorp.
*Khendyl Sharrer, Haylee Wood.
Olivia Gallaher, Maddy Malinich, Bella Minarchick, Lily Warlow.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.
10—vs. Moshannon Valley (Taylor Harpster Memorial Tournament). 11—vs. TBA (Taylor Harpster Memorial Tournament), TBA. 14—Clearfield. 14—Bald Eagle Area. 21—Tyrone. 28—vs. TBA (West Branch Holiday Tournament). 29—vs. TBA at West Branch Holiday Tournament.
4—at Huntingdon. 7—Penns Valley. 10—Bellefonte. 14—at Hollidaysburg. 15—Juniata. 17—at Clearfield. 19—Moshannon Valley. 20—at Bald Eagle Area. 24—Tyrone. 27—Huntingdon. 29—at East Juniata. 31—at Penns Valley.
3—at Bellefonte. 7—Hollidaysburg. 11—West Branch.
Games begin at 7:30 p.m. unless noted.