Tiger girls team gets valuable experience
There figures to be a period of transition as the dog days of summer start to appear.
Many high school basketball teams are in the middle of a rebuild process, and play in the summer only helps speed up that process for the upcoming winter season. So naturally, teams will experience both ups and downs when working out their chemistry on the court.
For the Northwestern girls' basketball team, their play in the recent Stellar Construction "Catch A Rising Star" Basketball Showcase was indicative of that. But while the Tigers did go 1-2 over the five-day event at Cedar Beach, the most important aspect of the tournament may have been exposing this group to more varsity-level competition.
"I think we did some good things and some bad things," Deutsch said. "It's a young group that is starting to learn how to play together. These girls are getting some varsity experience at this level. I would say it's a work in progress.
"Overall, it was good to get three games in. I wish we could've played a couple more, but that sometimes happens."
The girls, after dropping their tournament opener to Whitehall (a team that advanced all the way to the championship game on Sunday evening against Parkland), responded to beat Dieruff's JV team on Saturday morning.
That victory set up a game against Freedom, another bigger school from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. Despite the defeat, 41-37, the Tigers had an opportunity to experience a late, close-game situation with a relatively young group.
"I believe, like last year's teams, we're going to get better as the season goes along," Deutsch said. "We want to be playing our best basketball towards the end, and I think we will. We played quality schools here. We played Whitehall and Freedom. We're playing bigger schools. This is good for us."
One area Deutsch thought the Tigers played well in was their ball movement and shot creation. And for a half against Freedom, he was particularly pleased with the defensive effort.
"At times I liked the way we moved the ball offensively," Deutsch said. "We executed at times well, and I thought we got some good looks.
"Our defense needs to get better, that's one thing. I think it comes with energy. The first half today in this last game we gave up 30 in the first half, and in the second half we gave up 11. Obviously the energy level wasn't there in the first half, and it was there in the second half. We need to be more consistent."
The Tigers are bringing back guard Erika Thomas, a Colonial League honorable mention selection last season. She's going to be relied upon heavily after Northwestern's top two scorers, Sabrina Mertz and Sarah Segan, have graduated.
"We obviously have Erika Thomas coming back," girls head coach Chris Deutsch said. "I think what we're going to need this year is balanced scoring from other girls. When you lose a Mertz and a Segan, that's great guard play, so we're going to need kids to compliment each other. I thought we did that at times."
Deutsch is also expecting a number of younger players from last year's JV squad to have an immediate impact on the varsity stage. Sophomores Leighanna Lister, Gabby Sevrain and Jessica Williamson are expected to have increased roles.
"We had a good younger program last year, and we're going to need these JV girls to step up this year at the varsity level," Deutsch said. "It's going to take time. We just have to be patient."