By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY — Every high school team loses players to graduation, but Bob Kelly’s Lady Wolverines have lost a pair of 1,000-point scorers and a five-year starting point guard the last two years, which poses a lot of questions in 2019-20.
(Waverly opens its season tonight when it hosts Newark Valley.)
“It’s a challenge,” said Kelly. “A lot of our scoring left, and so far in our scrimmage, our scoring has been kind of spotty. Hopefully, that improves.
“We have some big shoes to fill,” he noted. “I think these girls are capable of doing a good job, they just have to get comfortable with each other.
“We just have to be more confident because we definitely have the capabilities of being pretty solid,” Kelly added.
The Lady Wolverines have two starters returning in junior guard Sidney Tomasso and senior forward Paige Lewis.
Stepping into starting roles will be senior forward Morgan Adams and senior guard Gianna Picco, while newcomer freshman Kennedy Westbrook will start at point guard.
The first guard off bench will be sophomore Olivia NIttinger, while senior Gretchen Sowle and sophomore Lourden Benjamin will be first post players off bench, and junior Alyssa Sindoni will also vie for time at guard.
Kelly believes familiarity with his system, and hard work will be the strengths of the Lady Wolverines in 2019-20.
“We have a mix of returning players and new ones, so we’re still relatively inexperienced,” he said. “I think our biggest strength is that most of the girls are very familiar with what we do.
“Now, we just have to execute that, and they have to understand they can execute it, but it takes a lot of effort,” noted Kelly. “That’s probably been our biggest obstacle, getting everybody to get to 100 percent.
“When we can do that, and minimize the distractions we’ve had, I think we’ll be capable of doing some pretty good things.
“In the shadow of some very good teams that came before them, this team will form and establish their identity through their hard work, commitment and camaraderie,” added Kelly. “That's all we can ask ... give everything you have and leave nothing on the court."
Kelly said another key is his team learning to trust each other.
“The girls have been working hard, and they’re grasping things quickly,” he said. “There’s a lot being thrown at them in a short amount of time.
“I think we can get a little bit more aggressive, and I think that will come with confidence, and trust in their teammates,” noted Kelly. “Having the confidence your teammate will have your back is key. We like to take chances, and they need to understand that it’s not always going to work out.
“I think once they figure that out, and believe in each other good things will happen,” Kelly added.
Kelly concedes there are a lot of question marks entering the season.
“I would agree that this team has more question marks than any since I started here. I’m not really sure where everything is going to go.
“I think some players need to understand that they need to do more,” said Kelly. “I’m not sure that they’ve gotten that message yet.
“I think we need a little more production underneath — we need some more inside scoring,” he added. “I’m looking for more from my post players than I have since my first year here.”
ON THE IAC SOUTH LARGE SCHOOL DIVISION: “I would say Newark Valley is the favorite, having everyone back,” said Kelly. “They are the ones everyone will be gunning for.
“I think Notre Dame will be improved, and Watkins Glen may be down a little bit.
“I’d like to think we’re going to be in the mix. We’ll find out, right off the get-go,” added Kelly in reference to his season-opener against Newark Valley.
ON SECTION IV, CLASS B: “I see the same old cast of characters in the mix in Class B,” said Kelly.
“Owego and Susquehanna Valley are going to be right at the top,” he noted. “Norwich is solid, and Oneonta is improved. Those are the teams I think will be making the most noise.
“I think you have to throw in Newark Valley in there, and hopefully we’re in there as well,” added Kelly. “I hope we get overlooked.”
IN PHOTO: Waverly’s Sidney Tomasso.
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