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NTL GIRLS' BASKETBALL: REVAMPED WYALUSING LOOKING TO BE COMPETITIVE AGAIN THIS SEASON (2021-12-08)

BY CHRIS MANNING
Northern Tier Sports Report
It will be a changing of the guard for Wyalusing girls’ basketball, as the familiar faces on the court of the last two years have graduated, with a new group of girls looking to carry the torch.

“We did lose some numbers, obviously from graduation, but the athletes we have here are hard workers every day they’ve come to practice so far,” said coach Ricky Lindblad. “They have a good attitude, good mindset. It’s been a good environment to be in coaching wise, and the kids are ready to learn, and ready to step up this year.”


They have to replace four starters from a team that went 10-6 last season, with Layla Botts their lone returnee from that group. She was a role player on last year’s team, but knows she’ll be called upon to do more this year - especially when it comes to ball handling and scoring.


“It’s kind of stressful, but I think that, with the team that I have, we’re all very supportive, and I think it’s going to be good,” said Botts. “I think we’re going to build off driving more, and dribble penetration and stuff like that.”


The Rams settled for a lot of jumpers last season, but will be looking to get higher quality shots.


“We do a lot of finishing drills,” explained Botts. “We just work hard and shoot a lot in practice.”


Joining her in the backcourt will be Olivia Spencer, who is back from an injury that kept her out a year ago.


“We have some big shoes to fill, but we have girls who are stepping up to fill their role,” Spencer remarked. “We have a good group of girls this year. We all have positive attitudes, so we’re looking good.”


She’ll be looking to add some scoring punch on the roster.


“I want to be better at shooting during games,” the senior said.


Marissa Johnson will also be looking in to step up down low, and as a facilitator.


“I want to do a lot of assisting,” said Johnson. “Help my teammates out, try to get everybody points, and spread the points around.”


She’ll be helping to anchor the defense, one that that caused problems for a plethora of NTL teams a year ago.


“We’ve been doing a lot of defensive work,” explained Johnson. “Just trying to mentally be in the right spots, as well as physically be ready.”


This group has already faced some adversity this year, as they’ve had teammates missing due to Covid-19 close contact quarantining, but they’ve persevered on.


“We’re almost going to a next person up mentality,” said Lindblad. “We’re trying to prepare everybody that we can, that way, if we do need them, they’ll be able to participate, and be there, and help us at the next level.”


He’s expecting a whole host of players - Spencer, Johnson, Bryn Zionkowski, Laci Norton - to step up in a lot of different ways to replace last year’s production.


“Zionkowski got injured last year, and we’re looking for her to step up,” said Lindblad. “Marissa Johnson has a very good basketball IQ - she knows where to be at the right time - and Laci Norton hasn’t gotten a lot of time in the past due to injury, but she’s one that really excites me. And I think she could give us a different boost of energy.”


Despite all the new faces the players still have high hopes for this season. They want to be in the hunt for the NTL Division-I title just like last year when they split with Athens, but were swept by Towanda, and lost to NEB.


“It’s definitely a challenge,” Spencer remarked. “But we know what to expect from years past, so we’re just going to work on that stuff.”


Still, it’s going to be different, as the Rams are still trying to figure how everybody fits, even though they have a good idea of what everyone can do.


“I do think we would be a question mark just because of losing four of the five starters, but these girls all got plenty of playing time, whether it’s JV or varsity,” explained Lindblad. “We tried to put them in situations knowing what the future was going to bring, where we could still develop them to where they needed to be, so when the time came to take over at varsity.”


Regardless, Lindblad believes their anonymity is an asset.

 

“I’m excited for it,” he said. “That mystery, you know, might catch a couple people by surprise, not knowing everybody’s potential.”


ROSTER

Marissa Johnson (12) - 34

Laci Norton (12) - 22

Olivia Spencer (12) - 42

Bryn Zionkowski (12) - 23

Layla Botts (11) - 2

Karley Chamberlain (11) - 32

Elana Jennings (11) - 14

Olivia Leichliter (11) - 33

Clare Allen (10) - 5

Elaina Goodwin (10) - 25

Emily Herman (10) - 24

Chloe Bennett (9) - 4

Grace Burridge (9) - 43

Alyssa Sterling (9) - 3

Rachel Wilson (9) - 21


SCHEDULE

Dec. 10 at Susquehanna, 7 p.m.

Dec. 15 at NEB, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 17 vs Sayre, 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 18 at Elk Lake, 2:30 p.m.

Dec. 29 at Montgomery Tournament

Dec. 30 at Montgomery Tournament

Jan. 3 vs Northwest, 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 5 at NPM, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 7 vs Troy, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 10 vs Athens, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 15 at Towanda, 1:30 p.m.

Jan. 18 at Wellsboro, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 20 vs NPL, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 22 vs Williamson, 1:30 p.m.

Jan. 26 at CV, 7 p.m.

Jan. 28 vs Canton, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 1 vs NPM, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 3 vs Troy, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 8 at Athens, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 10 vs Towanda, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 12 vs Wellsboro, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 14 at Sullivan County, 6:30 p.m.



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