Get ready to see a lot of new names totaling up big points in the box scores of YAIAA Division III girls' basketball games this season.
It's a division-wide phenomenon that will happen for last year's top-four teams out of necessity. That's because York Catholic, Delone Catholic, Biglerville and Hanover all need to replace their leading scorers.
Squirettes' graduate Maddie Comly, who averaged 22.7 points per game last season, now plays at Division I Farleigh Dickinson University. Canners' graduate Rebecca Issac — who averaged 16.7 points per game — now plays at Messiah College. Nighthawks' senior Soukaina Tracy, who averaged 19.8 points per game which accounted for nearly half of her team's scoring, will miss the entire season with a knee injury.
The defending District 3 Class AA champion Fighting Irish deal with a more complicated situation, as they'll look to replace four graduated starters. That list includes Marissa Ressler, who averaged a team-high 10.7 points per game last season, and Hannah Laslo, who averaged 10.2 points per contest.
Other than Hanover — which expected to have Tracy back this season — the loss of a leading scorer is something coaches kept in the back of their minds last season.
“We’re not a year-to-year program, so we have in mind that kids are gonna graduate, it’s inevitable," York Catholic coach Kevin Bankos said.“We try to look two or three years down the road. That way you know you constantly have people in the funnel, or if you have to re-do it every year.”
The process of encouraging role players to feel comfortable taking more shots is something that the coaches started working on as soon as practice started in mid-November.
“I tell them, ‘if you don’t want to shoot it, then I’ll find somebody who does,’” Delone Catholic coach Gerry Eckenrode said. “We’re gonna score points. The shots (Comly) took last year, somebody else is gonna take this year. That’s just a natural progression.”
Eckenrode hopes that senior Ally Shipley — his second-leading scorer last year with an average of 9.8 points per game — sophomore Jill Novak and senior Elise Knoblauch all step up to help share the scoring void left by Comly. He's also encouraging senior point guard Katie Laughman to trust her shot more.
York Catholic benefits from the return of sophomore Kate Bauhof, who scored 10.6 points per game in her first season. She's expected by many coaches to become a household name this year while leading the Fighting Irish offense and potentially flourishing as the team's lone returning starter. Bankos will fill out the rest of the starting lineup with players who gained experience off the bench a season ago.
Biglerville will have a new look as it embarks on a new quest without Issac, and with a new coach in Mark Silko.
Hanover fields a team dominated by juniors, and coach Denny Garman expects to have a more balanced attack.
"We have a much deeper team this year, we probably have 11 girls who can get varsity playing time," Garman said. "I think we're a team that will have a different leading scorer every night. We have six or seven girls who can go out and score 10 points."