Railroader preview: girls basketball

A new season brings a new head coach and four new members in the starting lineup, but the Whitehall varsity girls basketball team is ready to prove itself again a year removed from a Section II/Class D finals appearance.

“We have seen many changes from last year,” said new head coach Jim Birgey, who replaces co-coaches John St. Clair and Clint Currier (now the Corinth head coach). “Five seniors graduated, including 1,000-point scorer (and Whitehall girls all-time leading scorer) Brittany St. Clair. “Despite the changes, the girls are working extremely hard and we are focused and optimistic that we will be a contender in the league and will have a productive season.”

Along with the loss of Adirondack League and Region MVP St. Clair, the Lady Railroaders will also look to replace guards Maria McKee and Nea Wescott along with forwards Mackenzie Trevellyan and Carly Nichols.

Three seniors return to the squad who each saw quality playing time last season, including starting center Katie Paddock, defensive stopper Paige Mason and outside threat Loren Martell.

“Katie is the only returning starter from last year’s team,” said Burgey. “Her inside presence and rebounding ability will be a key to our success. Also, senior guards Paige Mason and Loren Martell add experience and speed to the lineup.”

Brianna McDonald also returns from last year’s squad, which will feature a number of new faces that either saw limited time as call-ups after the 2009-10 junior varsity season or will be seeing their first varsity minutes, including Jannessa Austin, Faith Eaton, Marissa Alexander, Payton Bessette, Lily Landon, Victoria Christian, Rebecca Lavin, Ariel Ayers and Brittney Putorti.

“We are very young with six sophomores joining the team this year,” said Burgey. “A successful season will not be measured by wins but by decreasing turnovers and second-chance opportunities by the opposition in every game. If we show improvement every game, then we will have a successful season.”

While there are many new faces and changes to the 2010-11 roster, one thing will remain the same – defense will be at the core of the Lady Railroaders’ style of play.

“We will focus on playing tight, aggressive defense,” said Burgey. “We will get points in transition quickly by moving the ball up the court.”

The Lady Railroaders will open the 2010-11 season on the road against Fort Ann on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

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