If there was ever a year when Schenectady Christian looked like a young Falcon freshly hatched from its egg, this is it.
Not only do they have a 22-year-old first-year head coach, Gina Feliciano, but the Falcons will be finally moving out of their tiny practice gym into a new one on campus.
Just getting out of the confines of the small gym can be an eye-opening experience each year, not only from a conditioning standpoint, but in terms of spacing on the floor.
“The first time we got in a big gym, the girls were dying,” Feliciano said. “And everybody was so close to each other, I had to tell them, ‘Spread out, spread out.’ They were in bunches. It really is a big adjustment.”
Feliciano, who was Gina DeAngelis before she got married, should know, because she played shooting guard for Schenectady Christian until her junior year before playing at Amsterdam as a senior.
She coached the JV last year for head coach Paul Brosious, and took over the varsity when Brosious left for Mohonasen.
The Falcons will be small this year, in numbers and size, after the graduation of 6-foot-1 star Sarah Child, but no one is counting them out of what should be a close race in the Western Athletic Conference Southern Division race.
“Obviously, they lost Sarah Child, but they have Ashlyn Slater back and a decent cast and a good tradition,” Berne-Knox-Westerlo coach Tom Galvin said. “Now, it could be a game of darts. I think it’s wide open. With Child, you knew you had to be real good to beat them. They’re back to being human a little bit.”
“This year, we have to start from scratch,” Feliciano said. “We can’t run an offense through a 6-1 center anymore, but it kind of makes a good transition for me because it’ll be a whole new system. The game for Schenectady Christian will be running.”
Everything about Schenectady Christian is so new and fresh that the players have had to be told not to refer to Feliciano by her first name.
“Everybody was calling me ‘Gina,’ so I had to lay it out and tell them you have to call me ‘Coach,’ ” she said. “I had to draw the line that, what I say, goes. They look at me as a friend because I’m 22, and I still play pick-up with them.”
Slater, who should hit 1,000
career points early in the season, is small, but can score just about
every kind of way imaginable except maybe posting up.
The girls’ team will be the first to play a real game on the new court, kicking off a triple-header with the boys’ JV and varsity teams on Dec. 5.
Berne-Knox-Westerlo, led by senior backcourt Andrea VanDyke and Amber Pitcher, isn’t tall, either, but the Bulldogs have been a force for years under Galvin, and have another athletic team that relies on pressure defense to get the offense running.
“The only thing that will determine if we go from good to great is if we can consistently put the ball in the hoop, which we struggled with in the preseason,” Galvin said.
Size won’t be an issue at Schoharie, but numbers could be, as the Indians have eight players, and one of them, Sarah Lamoureux, will be juggling varsity basketball with a Junior Olympic volleyball team she’s competing on until March.
“One injury could hurt us,” coach Jeremy Karker said. “We’re a small team, but we have one of the tallest teams in the league.”
The division also includes Duanesburg, Canajoharie, Middleburgh and Sharon Springs.
The Eagles have most of the team back that beat Germantown and Whitehall in the Class C sectionals before becoming the 22nd straight victim of Schenectady Christian, which finally lost a game, to Maple Hill, in the Class C final.
“We’re finally in a position where we’re the ones with experience,” coach Joe DeGiule said. “We played as a team [in the sectionals] and outscrapped the other teams. Hopefully, we can do that in our league, and not wait for sectionals.”
Canajoharie lost Heidi Anderson and her 20 points-per-game average to graduation, but has a solid mix of seniors and sophomores.
“We have to make up the difference,” coach Marie Stahler said. “We’re going to have a much more balanced attack this year.”
If anyone needs an idea how to stop Lamoureux and Schoharie, they can look to Sharon Springs, which won just two games in the WAC, but one was a 50-31 victory over the Indians.
Fonda-Fultonville is in position for its sixth straight Northern Division title, but the brass ring for the Braves, a Section II Class B title, has remained elusive, and they still haven’t won the overall WAC championship.
Fonda returns division MVP Paula Egelston, a junior forward who averaged 13.5 ppg and over eight rebounds a game last year, and seasoned players like Alyssa Nowak, Britteny Lasky and Holli Hanson.
Now, if they can just figure out how to go deeper in the postseason. The Braves were seeded fifth and beat Greenville, but lost to
No. 4 Ichabod Crane in the quarterfinals.
“We’re taking a little different attitude this year,” coach Wendi Waters said. “We’re happy with the league [title], obviously, but we feel we should go further in sectionals.”
Northville returns one of the stars of the conference, Chelsea Paul, Galway has a deep, experienced team back and Saratoga Catholic, which lost about 80 percent of its scoring to graduation, will try to keep the pace quick.
“Chelsea can do pretty much everything,” Northville coach Martina Tooley said. “She’s a great three-point shooter, she scores off offensive rebounds, she’s got some post game and she’s a great free- throw shooter, so if they hit her, she’ll make a lot of them. If she gets double-teamed, she’s smart enough to dish it off.”
Galway has four starters back, and their sixth man last season,
senior Andrea Nicols, will step into the starting lineup.
“We do have a nice nucleus,” coach Deb Wilday said. “They know each other very, very well.”
Saratoga Catholic will try to account for its loss of proven scorers by running up and down the court and playing fierce defense.
“If we get into a halfcourt game, we’re going to struggle,” coach Steve Lombard said. “We’re not big, so we’re not going to power the ball.”
There are three new coaches in the Northern Division, Tim Jones at Mayfield, Chris Resch at Fort Plain and Darren Lynch at St. Johnsville.
Jones has just one player,
senior forward Jessica Morey, who has started a varsity game, “which makes life interesting,” he said, and Fort Plain will be counting on
senior guard Mallory Baum, who was a WAC second-teamer last year.
Coach: Wendi Waters
Last year’s record: 12-0 division, 17-5 overall.
Top returning players: Paula Egelston, junior, forward; Alyssa Nowak, junior, guard; Britteny Lasky, senior, guard; Holli Hanson, senior, guard.
Coach: Chris Resch
Last year’s record: 4-8, 5-15.
Top returning players: Mallory Baum, senior, guard; Ashley Manchester, senior,
forward; Mikayla Gros, sophomore, forward.
Coach: Deb Wilday
Last year’s record: 6-6, 8-13.
Top returning players: Irena Longworth, senior, guard; Heather Sickler, senior, forward; Nicole Jones, senior, forward; Andrea Nicols, senior, guard; Kaley Schelling, junior, guard.
Coach: Tim Jones
Last year’s record: 4-8, 8-13.
Top returning players: Jessica Morey, senior, forward; Rebecca Brower, senior, forward; Kayla Ellis, senior, guard; Brooke Mowrey, senior, guard.
Coach: Martina Tooley
Last year’s record: 5-7, 6-14.
Top returning players: Chelsea Paul,
senior, forward; Anne Ryan, senior, forward; Alicia Ellsworth, sophomore, guard.
Coach: Steve Lombard
Last year’s record: 9-3, 10-10.
Top returning players: Kate Mensler,
junior, guard; Jen Diggins, junior, guard; Kaelen Anderson, senior, forward; Gabby Rizzo, senior, forward.
Coach: Darren Lynch
Last year’s record: 2-10, 2-15.
Top returning players: Megan Beaulieu, sophomore, guard; Richelle Dye, senior, forward; Richelle Lyons, junior, forward; Shiree Lyons, junior, guard.
Coach: Tom Galvin
Last year’s record: 10-2, 15-7.
Top returning players: Andrea Van Dyke, senior, guard; Amber Pitcher, senior, guard; Jocelyn Mann, senior, forward.
Coach: Marie Stahler
Last year’s record: 7-5, 12-9.
Top returning players: Sarah Blood,
senior, forward; Sonni Pank, senior, forward; Christine Ward, senior, forward; Kelsey Aldi, sophomore, guard; Emilie Liddle, sophomore, center; Caitlyn Mosher, sophomore, forward.
Coach: Joe DeGiule
Last year’s record: 3-9, 9-14.
Top returning players: Alison Paludi,
junior, guard; Alyson Sanders, senior, guard; Emily DeGiule, senior, forward.
Coach: Robert Farrell
Last year’s record: 3-9, 12-10.
Coach: Jeremy Karker
Last year’s record: 5-7, 9-12.
Top returning players: Sarah Lamoureux, senior, center; Erica Stark, junior, forward; Jackie Hausmann, junior, center; Kiersten Hotaling, senior, guard; Hilary Hext, senior, guard.
Coach: Gina Feliciano
Last year’s record: 12-0, 22-1.
Top returning players: Ashlyn Slater, senior, guard; Monica Compton, freshman,
Coach: Tom Yorke
Last year’s record: 2-10, 9-12.
Top returning players: Olivia Tomasewski, sophomore, guard; Christina Lockenwitz, junior, guard; Paige Quimby, senior, forward; Jyline Varin, sophomore, guard.