Girls exceeded expectations in 2018-19
This season figured to be one of rebuilding for the Northwestern Lehigh Lady Tigers. The team lost four starters to graduation and had just two seniors – Sage Christopher and Maggie Motolese – on this year’s roster.
As head coach Chris Deutsch points out, at times, Northwestern had four sophomores and a junior on the court at key points in the game. If this was a rebuilding season, then the construction project is well ahead of schedule, because the Lady Tigers finished the regular season at 19-3 and finished overall at 21-6, coming up just short of reaching states.
“I think we’re about a year ahead of schedule, honestly,” said Deutsch. “We thought this would be a learning year for a lot of our girls, but to their credit, they stepped up and played really well and put us ahead of where we thought we would be. Realistically, I thought we would surprise some people and win some games, but I wasn’t planning on 20 wins.”
Sage Christopher finished off her high school career with her best season. Christopher averaged just under 10.5 points per game this season and proved to be a leader on and off the court.
“I was really proud of the job that she did,” said Deutsch. “We really needed her to step up and she did everything that we needed. Her leadership was great and on a lot of nights she was our leading scorer.”
Motolese, a leader on the girls soccer team during her high school career, played a role coming off the bench for Deutsch and was able to pass along some insight to younger players with her work ethic and attitude.
While there were just two seniors, the team didn’t lack for leadership and Deutsch believes the younger players really learned from this season and a playoff run.
Taking Christopher out of the picture would appear to leave Emily Sekerak alone to battle down low in her junior season, but wait, enter yet another Sevrain sister to answer the call. Paige Sevrain will be a freshman next season and has a chance to join the roster following her older sisters Gabby, who graduated last year, and Sydney, who will be entering her senior season when the team reassembles next fall.
Sydney Sevrain (10.3 ppg) and Sekerak (10.8 ppg) were the other two players on the team who averaged double-digits in scoring for Northwestern Lehigh this season. Starters Alex Lister and Mackenzie Hess were starters this year and will return next season, giving the Tigers a legitimate starting rotation to build around.
“What I like about our team is that our young players really got to play some quality minutes and got to play in playoff situations and that’s important for young players to experience,” said Deutsch. “We like to get a lot of players on the court every game so that they have that work and know what to expect if they’re called on to play more or when they’re in the spotlight later in their career.”
On a personal note, Deutsch puts the 2018-2019 season among his most satisfying not just because of the unexpected results, but also because of the approach that his players took to the season.
“It really is a group of girls that work hard and really want to get better,” noted Deutsch. “They didn’t use the fact that they were a young team as an excuse. They just went out and played hard and never quit on us. When you have girls like that to coach, it makes the season well worth it and I would have to say that this season was very satisfying for me as a coach.”