MANLIUS — The only direction for the Bureau Valley Storm girls’ basketball team to go this year is up.
Coming off a season where their only win came in their first game, the Storm will enter the new year with a young squad under the direction of first-year coach Tiffany Gonigam. She sees a lot of potential in her team this year and credits a competitive summer league and improvement each day in practice to building confidence in her players.
“I challenged them to pick up the pace every day (in practice) and they’ve done that,” said Gonigam, who has been a coach in the BV program the past four years. “Every day we’ve increased the intensity and added more things. Some of what we are doing is old and some of what we are doing is new. They have come in focused every day.”
Four of the five starters from last season have graduated and Gonigam admits next week’s Princeton Tournament will be a time that she may experiment with different line-ups and rotations.
“This tournament is really going to be kind of experimental for us,” said Gonigam. “One of the new things we have implemented is a new structure to our offense. After Monday’s game we don’t play again until Thursday, so we’ve got two practices to get back and see where we stand and who is playing well. We are trying to find out the chemistry of this team.”
Juniors Katelin Johnson (G), Lacey DeVenney (G) and Nicole Bornsheuer (F) all saw significant varsity minutes last season and are expected to be key contributors. The Storm have also called up sophomores Heaven Bennett (F) and Irini Petros (F) to add depth to the post position.
“I’m really looking for some things out of the juniors that played with us last year,” said Gonigam. “They will handle the ball for us on the outside, and Nicole, mixed in with some of our sophomore players, who are posts, will really provide a good mix. I think our scoring from the post and guard position is pretty equal. I think they really complement each other well.”
Looking for leadership, Gonigam has five seniors on her squad, including Emily Mathew (G) and Cathy Johnson (G), who were on the squad last season. Krista Naaktgeboren (G) and Susan Brummel (F) have a couple of years experience in the underclass ranks and Vicky Matuszewski (G) is new to the program.
Rounding out the roster are juniors Christy Williams (G), Jazmine Delbridge (G), and Shannon Reuter (G).
The Storm will open their season Monday against Stark County at the Princeton Tournament.