After a couple of rough seasons, the Schuylkill Valley High School girls’ basketball team are looking to get back to its winning ways. The Lady Panthers were 1-9 last year, but they will have most of the best players on that team back again this year.
“We hope to compete with everyone in Division 2,” said head coach Nate Cammauf. “We want to become a surprise team that could make some noise.”
The good news is that the Panthers have four of their top six scorers back from last year. But that can be a little deceiving because only two players averaged more than four points a game. Obviously, the Panthers need to step it up offensively if they want to compete for a playoff spot.
The Lady Panthers will rely heavily on their more experienced players, but some of their production will have to
Their biggest piece back from last year is junior guard Emily Hepner, who was the team’s best defender last year, and leading scorer with 192 total points (10.7 per game), will be counted on to score even more this year.
“The last half of the season she averaged over 15 points a game and led the team in steals,” said Coach Cammauf. “She’s an all-around player with solid quickness and a great work ethic.”
Also back is guard Jill Deiley, a senior who has started for the team all four year. She was fifth on the team in scoring last year, but only scored 49 points in 22 games. She is capable of improving her offensive numbers, but that’s just a small part of her game.
“She has become a solid defender and looks to be a big part of our offensive game this year,” said Cammauf. “She leaves everything on the floor and is one of the hardest working girls I’ve ever coached. She’s very team oriented and works as hard as she can for the rest of the girls in the gym.”
Senior Lauren McEwen is back after averaging four points a game last year in 19 games. She will be the starting center after starting most of Schuylkill Valley’s games last year.
“She will bring good experience to our offense and defense,” said Cammauf. “She can battle with the rest of the bigs in Division 2, and will have to be a factor in some very important games.”
Among the seven sophomores and freshmen on the team is Madison Zimmerman, who saw significant varsity playing time last year. Cammauf likes what he sees in this young player and will count on her to make significant contributions to the team this year.
“She has worked in the off-season to improver her post game,” said the coach. “She will be looking to become a big presence on the defense this season. She’s working hard to become a consistent all-around threat in both aspects of the game.”
Expect the team to improve on last year’s disappointing season. How much they improve is the big question. They have a lot of experience coming back, but they will also have to rely on some first-year varsity players to make contributions.
“Our team goals are to compete with every team in Division 2, and take one game at a time to keep building and to get back in the mix with the rest of the division,” said Cammauf.
“Everyone will have to work hard for 32 minutes and for each other - being a team on and off the course. They need to push each other to work hard for the entire season.”
The Lady Panthers open the season on Dec. 9 at home against Pine Grove. They will also be at home against Blue Mountain on Dec. 12.