Christmas wishes for PTC girls basketball squads

By colin harris | STAFF WRITER Published:

First off, Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope that had a fun -- and safe -- time with your family and friends Tuesday.

Before the teams of the PTC get back into league play and title races heat up, I thought it might be interesting to take a guess at what each area team was hoping Santa left for them under their gym's Christmas tree.

SOUTHEAST

All the Pirates want for Christmas this year is to win a County Division championship -- and things certainly seem to be shaping up in their favor.

Southeast has already gone on the road and picked up victories over Woodridge and Waterloo. After a dangerous trip to Windham on Jan. 4 to end the first go-around of the schedule, the Pirates get their toughest tests in Round 2 at home as the top-half of the league must visit Palmyra for their rematches.

WINDHAM

Windham would very much like to see young players like freshman Brittany Knight and sophomore Dari Heller continue their development into frontline players.

With hardly any senior leadership on the team, I don't know how far this group can go in 2012-13, but there could be enough talent right now to put a scare into County and playoff opponents.

WOODRIDGE

Woodridge would really like to figure out a way to live without sophomore Morgan Thompson.

After suffering an injury before the season that will more than likely cost her the season, the Bulldogs have not been the frontrunners in the County Division that everyone expected.

Senior forward Lizzie Wilkinson is playing good ball, but Thompson stepped right in as a freshman and was instantly among the best shooters in either side of the PTC. The loss of that sort of production -- and the ability to keep defenses from crashing in on Wilkinson -- has hurt a 5-5 Woodridge team.

MOGADORE

Mogadore just needs some positive momentum.

The Wildcats are currently just 1-7 overall and have bounced back and forth between competitive losses and blowouts. At this point, upcoming games with Perry, Field and Waterloo look like stiff challenges for the Wildcats as they try to claw back to a winning record.

There is talent on this team with sophomore Grace Reilly and junior Naomi Pollock, but that snowball can pick up speed really fast unless someone can step up and get things headed back in the right direction.

WATERLOO

On the other hand, Waterloo just needs to keep winning.

The Vikings started out the season with what, in retrospect, looks like a respectable loss to a talented Field team. Regardless, Waterloo seemed like it was still struggling to jell as a unit and work in some younger pieces along seniors Jamie Willis and Megan Forney.

Since then, the Vikings have gone 4-1 overall and are in great shape in the County Division for the second half of the season.

GARFIELD

Garfield could stand to see some of its younger players continue their development.

The G-Men have a good one in senior guard Jackie Tabor, but players like freshman Madisson Geddes, junior Emily Perrine and 6-0 freshman Alicia Witte need to continue making strides before the G-Men can really be a contender.

It last week's loss to Southeast, the G-Men looked great the first half and went shot-for-shot with a veteran Pirates squad. Turnovers and other youthful mistakes helped Southeast pull away in the second half because, like Garfield coach Aaron Gilbert hinted at, it's tough to compete with experience.

ROOTSTOWN

Rootstown has been competitive this season and, despite three County Division losses, the Rovers can still make a go of things in the second half.

Even if that doesn't happen, though, head coach Jay Airhart might have his sights set a little higher than the league.

Last year's Rovers team looked like the walking wounded with numerous starters benched due to knee injuries, yet still managed to make a district title run.

This year's team has Brandi Barkhurst, Cayanne Breznak and Alex Cramer -- all three missed back parts or all of last year due to ACL injuries -- back and players like sophomore Jaylnn Myers and junior Casey Miracle are playing well.

FIELD

The Falcons are riding high and have defied all expectations with a 6-1 overall record and a 4-1 mark in league play.

But the stiffest tests still lie ahead with games against Ravenna (Jan. 5 and Feb. 6) and a road trip to Norton on Jan. 30.

So the biggest question for Field is can this team who has not yet experienced championship-level success handle their business?

I actually think the Falcons can do just that and it's because of their head coach, Craig Nettleton. The former Field boys coach has been doing this for a long time and I think he has a good feel for what buttons he'll need to push to keep his squad focused.

RAVENNA

Ravenna just needs to keep improving.

Also, holding on to the ball wouldn't hurt.

You can see the development of this group from year to year as sophomore Deja Sanders and freshman Taylor Geib are in a core group of young faces that have done a tremendous job replacing departed stars Malorie Gibson and DeAndra Gibson.

With the Ravens' athleticism, toughness and talent, I'm not worried about them competing with anyone left on their schedule. What I think can hold them back -- and Ravens coach Sonny Tilden would probably agree -- is that the speed at which they play can result in turnover totals in the 20s most nights.

KENT ROOSEVELT

Kent Roosevelt has struggled in the first half of the season with losses to Field and Norton.

When I saw the Rough Riders take on Ravenna in front of a rocking home gym, Roosevelt was out-muscled on the glass by its rival.

I know that head coach Craig Foreman preaches toughness and he'll need players like Courtney Olesh, Libby Bradford and Megan Thomas to step up their game and limit second chance opportunities around the glass.

There's no way around it -- Norton, Field and Ravenna are physical teams and Roosevelt will need to match that if it wants to get back into the title race.

CRESTWOOD

After a 64-40 loss to Norton on Wednesday, it's a good thing for Crestwood that just one really tough league test -- Kent Roosevelt on Jan. 5 -- stands between now and Jan. 16 at Field.

I think that the Red Devils have the potential for a good season with young players like Holly Hoffman and junior Allison Vannoy.

After dates against Field, Norton and Ravenna -- including a back-to-back slate with the Falcons and Ravens -- I just think this squad could use a few games to get their footing back under them before Round 2.

STREETSBORO

I think that Streetsboro coach Allison Carey is hoping her team can become more consistent from the foul line.

In a recent 59-40 loss to Coventry, the Rockets finished just 18-of-44 from the foul line. In the game before that, Streetsboro shot 8-of-20 from the line in a 60-38 loss to Kent Roosevelt.

I know that even shooting 50 percent in those games would not have resulted in a win, but foul shots are free points and a few more of those on the board could have meant a lot in the flow of the game.

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