Coming off of a season in which they won just one game, there is no question what the New Covenant Christian Flames girls basketball team is looking for in 2016-2017.
“We expect to win more games,” New Covenant coach Chris Light said.
In looking for victories, and not just intangible measurements of improvement, New Covenant will need to take advantage of its increased experience.
“I would say our overall basketball knowledge is greater than it was last year,” said Light, entering his seventh season as the Flames' coach. “As coaches, we can see we are miles ahead from last year.”
Two sophomores who started as freshmen are back with that increased knowledge and experience: guard/forward Jacinda Clarke (5-foot-5) and guard Annika Martin (5-3). Kylie Murray, a 5-5 junior guard/forward, is also back after starting last season.
“The girls are eager,” Light said. “With a one-win season from last year, we want to build. Based on what we see out on the floor, we expect to be more competitive.”
Other players who figure to see minutes every game include 5-4 junior guard Rebekah Hennigh, 5-6 freshman forward Becky Swisher, 5-7 freshman forward Jessica Hoover and 5-5 freshman forward Alyssa Light.
Their coach said that one reason that New Covenant should be better this year is that the team is more athletic overall than a year ago.
Emily Bonilla, a 5-2 senior guard, and Mallory Swope, a 5-5 freshman forward, may also get some time on the floor.
The Flames were 1-15 overall last season, and 1-11 in the CCAC West. But Light said that there are encouraging signs for the program's future, especially the development of a middle school program that was not there when he took over the program. Just the presence of the program is helping to increase the aforementioned basketball knowledge for New Covenant Christian.
The team sometimes cannot practice on school grounds, moving those practices to Living Waters Chapel when needed, but Light hopes to keep everything on school grounds once the current capital campaign is complete.
The PIAA's recent expansion of basketball classifications from four to six did not affect New Covenant, which will be Class 1A again this year. There are 22 Class A teams in District 3.
New Covenant girls
Coach: Chris Light
Last year: 1-15
Returning starters: Jacinda Clarke (so., G/F, 5-5), Annika Martin (so., G, 5-3), Kylie Murray (jr., G/F, 5-5)
Other key players: Rebekah Hennigh (jr., G, 5-4), Becky Swisher (fr., F, 5-6), Jessica Hoover (fr., F, 5-7), Alyssa Light (fr., F, 5-5)
Season opener: Friday, at Mount Calvary, 7:30.