HS BASKETBALL: Lady Eagles excited to ring in new basketball season
By KENNY VARNER
For The EXPRESS
WINGATE – With a small but mighty squad coming into this season, the Bald Eagle Area girls are looking to make some noise in the always tough Mountain League.
The team will be once again coached by Darin Hazel and assisted by Dave Gregor.
“We’re young but we have some experience coming back from last year’s team,” Hazel said. “We have three that started all last year for us and one fourth that finished the year starting for us.”
The team is bringing in a roster of 12. In that is one senior and one junior.
“With that comes some excitement that we can build for the future and really develop these kids,” Hazel added.
Lost from last year’s team were four seniors.
Returning to this year’s squad are letter-winners Kaleigh Cunningham, Lacee Barnhart, Rachel Veneziano, Sarah Holler and Lexi Skripek.
Hazel will be loaded with underclassman that will be fighting for some valuable playing time, but one in particular that will be asked to have a major role as of now.
“We have Madison Perry, who will be asked to do some things for us,” Hazel said.
Some strengths his team will show this year will come from its raw athleticism.
“We have a lot of good athletes. We have five kids that played on the volleyball team and we have some really good athleticism,” Hazel said. “They bring some high expectations and we are going to build off of that and that winning culture to the basketball program.
“We are fairly quick. I like that and I like to go after people on defense. I think that bodes well for us.”
One of the things Hazel is trying to build up before the season is on the defensive side of the ball.
“We are trying to improve our help-side defense, our talking and the little things like that so we put together all the defense,” Hazel said. “We do a good job with our energy and our effort. We are just trying to tie that to our defense.”
The goals for the team are as simple as day-to-day.
“For us, we are just going to take it one game at a time. I don’t want to look at down the road. I just want to look at it game-by-game to try to go out there and be successful,” Hazel said. “We go into each game want to try to win every game. Really just emphasize that we have the ability to do it,” Hazel said. “We have the confidence in ourselves and are able to do it. I think for us it is just getting a couple wins and it will be huge for our psyche, and our confidence, and I think that’s one of the things we’re going to try to push.”
Hazel sees a couple teams that will be tough on the schedule.
“One of them would be my alma mater Penns Valley, Karen McCaffrey has a nice program and a nice team,” Hazel said. ” She has all five starters returning. Out west you have Central, they return four players but lose their best player. And you can’t forget about Tyrone either.”