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The 2023-24 girls basketball season in the Valley was a tough one for the Valley teams, with none of the four posting a winning record, and only two qualifying for the postseason.

Waverly overcame tragedy to finish the regular season at 9-9 before ending the season with a loss in the Section IV, Class B playoffs, while Athens finished its season at 9-14 after a loss in the District 4, Class 4A playoffs.

Sayre finished the season at 0-22, while Tioga was 0-19.

Taking a quick glimpse into the crystal ball more than eight months prior to the first games can be tricky, but the 2024-25 season appears it will be a bit better than this year.

What does the crystal ball forecast?

Athens Wildcats:
The Wildcats will return Addy Wheeler for her senior season, as well as her classmate Sara Bronson, and underclassmen Abby Burgess and McKenna Jarvis, who now both have a full year of varsity play under their belts.

Ava Hughes and Lizzie Gorsline should transition into full-time varsity players, and Brielle Mayo could make an impact next year as well. The more they contribute, the better the Wildcats will be.

Prediction: Wheeler will be one of the best players in the NTL again next year, and she will have more experience, athleticism, and depth around her. I don’t know that this team has enough low-post play to compete in Class 4A at Districts, but the Wildcats should be competitive in the league. … 2024-25 record: 14-8 regular season.

Sayre Redskins: The Redskins will bring back all three of their frontcourt starters in Abbie McGaughey, Rylee Lantz, and Payton Black, but will need to replace both guards — Liz Shaw and Meghan Flynn, who will be lost to graduation

Sayre could get help from its junior high team, but expecting freshmen guards to handle the ball on varsity is a big ask.

The first thing Sayre needs to do in order to get the program back to where it was just five or six years ago is get its numbers back up to support a JV team, where the young underclassmen can develop properly.

Sayre was only competitive in a handful of games this year. If they can cultivate some guard play, they could get off the snide and win a few games. … 2024-25 record: 2-20 regular season.

Tioga Tigers:
The Tigers only lose one senior that saw a lot of minutes, and returns a trio of solid players in Taliah Speer, RaeAnne Feeko, and Mia Hall, as well as a handful of role players.

There was some very young talent on the team this year, but it didn’t get the proper playing time to develop. (There are only so many minutes in a varsity game.)

I feel like there is an echo in here: “The first thing Tioga needs to do in order to get the program back to where it was just five or six years ago is get its numbers back up to support a JV team, where the young underclassmen can develop properly.”

Prediction: With just about everyone back, Tioga should be better. I don’t see another winless season, but I don’t see a huge improvement record-wise either. 2024-25 record: 2-18 regular season.

Waverly Wolverines: The fact the Wolverines were able to post a 9-10 record this year in light of the tragic loss of Peyton Shaw, and the season-ending injury to Addison Westbrook still amazes me. It says a lot for the resiliency of the girls on that team.

They’ll lose a pair of senior starters in Paige Robinson, and Ashlen Croft, but the return of Westbrook, and the addition of Kaitlyn Sutton, who played JV this year after transferring in from Sayre, will ease that loss.

Sophomore-to-be Ryleigh Judson, who led the team in scoring this year, will be the biggest beneficiary of Westbrook’s return, and Sutton’s arrival as she’ll find it easier to get good looks.

Now, toss in the fact the other two freshmen, and the three 8th-graders on this year’s team will be a year older and more experienced, and this Wolverine team should be pretty good.

Prediction: Despite the adversity this year, Waverly was very competitive in the STAC. Next season, the Wolverines should be in the mix for a division title, and could make some noise at Sectionals. … 2024-25 record: 16-4 regular season.

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