Oley Valley girls' basketball team tries to defend its division title

Photo by Aimee Herbert Sophomore Amanda Rizzuti is one of the many very young players on the Oley Valley High School girls' basketball team this season.

The Oley Valley girls’ basketball team had a lot of changes coming into the 2012-2013. They lost a lot of players to graduation and Jeff Cardinal took over as head coach for Mike Clark who guided last year’s team to a 28-5 record and a berth in the state playoffs.

Cardinal knows that this year’s team is young and inexperienced. Brandi Vallely is returning from an A.C.L. injury and will be a team leader. According to Coach Cardinal she’s back and better than ever. He feels that with her back on the court for the Lady Lynx, it changes the team dramatically for the better. He also thinks that things are going as expected so far early in the season.

“With not a lot of returning players back, it’s going to take time to get them playing together all on the same page,” said Coach Cardinal.

There are only two returning players with varsity experience. They are senior Courtney Dunn and Vallely, a junior.

Vallely was an All-Division player for the past two years. “I feel she is one of the top players in Berks,” said Cardinal. “She is the complete player and also a tremendous role model for our team. Brandi has that rare gift of leading by example. I feel confidant she will make her teammates better.

“Courtney (Dunn) was sixth man last year off the bench. She played some very important minutes as a junior and hit some big shots at crunch time. She should be a huge lift also to our underclassmen.”

There are several young players who are looking to make an impact on this year’s team. There are three sophomores Amanda Rizzuti, Carly Kauffman and Kayla Matuszak who are looking to see time on the court this year. Senior Megan Deptula is also looking to make an impact along with freshman Amanda Aulenbach.

Amanda (Rizzuti) is a heady player who can handle the ball and is a threat from three-point range,” said Cardinal. “Megan (Deptula) is a strong very athletic who’s also a decent outside shooter. However she has not played for two years.”

“Carley (Kauffman) is very athletic our tallest player at 5’9”. She’s a terrific field hockey player hoping to translate that over to the basketball court.

“Kayla (Matuszak) is a descent ball handler can rebound quite aggressive and can shoot.

“Amanda (Aulenbach) is about 5’9”. She’s a very good rebounder with a wealth of potential.”

Having a young and inexperienced team is a concern for Cardinal who’s looking to ride the ship early on in the season. “It will certainly be a factor early on, but I hope not into league play and down the more crucial time of our season,” said Cardinal. “We are quite driven with realistic goals. We are not looking past our division and counties.

The team has two major expectations for this year -one is to be a factor in the divison. The other is to possibly qualify for the District 3-AA playoffs.

Coach Cardinal likes the new format of having three divisions instead of four divisions. He feels that it levels the playing field for his team.

“Playing bigger schools - mainly three A’s - not only helps us in our division, but also gives us a better shot of making counties with one of the last two playoff spots,” said Cardinal. Cardinal feels that the Berks County girls’ league is wide open this year, with all teams having a chance to compete for the Berks County title.

The team will be in a three-day tournament over Christmas break and Coach Cardinal feels that this will be a good thing because his team will be competing against quality opponents. He feels that by doing this it will better prepare his team for the division games.

The Lynx won’t be the dominent team they have been the last couple of years, but they certainly have a shot at defending the division title.

“Whenever you can build your team around a player like Brandi, then you have a shot to be in the mix,” said Cardinal.

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