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Despite their youth, Warwick girls still have high goals
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
There are several words that describe the 2012-13 Warwick girls basketball team.
Hard working is one.
Scrappy is another.
Perhaps the best, however, is young. Very young.
Of the 10 players that are on Warwick’s varsity roster, four are freshmen. Although the Lady Warriors have three key returning seniors (Madi Derr, Meredith Michel, Greta Weidemoyer) back in the fold, their overall numbers don’t provide them with a lot of depth.
"We’re definitely very young, but the girls are hard workers though," Warwick’s third-year coach Amy Derr (22-23 overall) said. "I knew this year was going to be really, really tough with having the numbers. We anticipated that. Not to this extent, of course. We had some girls that said academics were more important or they wanted to focus on another sport. So with that said, it is a little disheartening when you don’t have the girls that you know are really good athletes. But on the other hand, you work with the girls that you do have and they all have great attitudes and are working hard."
The Warwick girls, of course, are hoping that their hard work will help lead them a little deeper in the playoffs after suffering a 36-32 loss to Section One rival Hempfield in the first-round of the District Three Quad-A tourney.
Gone from that squad that finished 11-12 overall are leading scorer Bethany Zimmerman (9.0 ppg), point-guard Macaulay Soto (2.7 ppg) and three-point threat Megan Hunt (7.6 ppg, 30 treys).
While Derr admits that this year’s squad will have a bit of a learning curve, she believes that their team speed will be a strength. Warwick’s skipper also likes the way they’ve been playing on the defensive end of the floor so far, and their offense has been showing positive signs.
"I felt like sometimes last year, I was bored as a coach. There were times," Derr said, "that we were like, ‘Come on girls, you need to move. You need to move to get open.’ So that was probably a real frustrating aspect for all of us last year … I do feel like they’re doing a better job. I think they’re understanding that concept of needing to move without the ball and their options that they have of what they can do. So at this point, let’s worry about getting open and getting the good shot."
Soto played a big role in setting up her teammates for good shots last year, and the Lady Warriors will miss the ball-handling skills that she brought to the team while running the point. Hannah Shue, a 5-foot-4 junior guard, is battling for minutes there along with a pair of freshmen — 5-foot-7 Katie Hipple and 5-foot-6 Kate Martin.
"We told Hannah that honestly, it’s kind of a three-way tie between her and Kate Martin and Katie Hipple," Derr said. "We like those two freshmen. I feel like they’re fiery freshmen and they bring it. (Hipple) is the girl that looks for the holes on offense. She’s a very smart offensive player, she does a lot of good things offensively which you’re always looking for. With Kate Martin, she’s just that scrappy kid and she’s that kid that can make the steal and go down and make an easy layup. Hannah’s really been trying very hard in practice, but we still need to eliminate her turnovers."
Guards Lindsey Lefever (5-foot-8) and Lauren Snader (5-foot-7) are the other two freshman on the varsity roster.
"I call them ‘Fiery Freshmen.’ They are coming in working hard and they’re fast and they’re quick to learn," Derr said. "And I don’t want them being timid with the upperclassmen."
Two of those upperclassmen are seniors Madi Derr (5-foot-9) and Michel (5-foot-7), who averaged 4.1 and 3.1 points per game last year. They are showing some scrappiness and they will bring a lot of experience after getting significant varsity minutes in 2011-12. In addition to their leadership, coach Derr will be looking for the two guards to increase their scoring production this winter to help offset the points that the Lady Warriors lost to graduation.
"If anything, they fought for each other’s spot last year," Derr said, "and they contribute, I feel, pretty well. They’re kinda even when it comes to their scrappiness on defense as well as their shot selection. I’m hoping their shots become a little more consistent. I’d like to see them contribute more points. I have to. I mean, they’re my seniors. I hope all my seniors can contribute a decent amount every game."
The third senior in that mix, of course, is Weidemoyer (6.1 ppg), a 5-foot-11 forward who will be a major presence inside for Warwick. She finished among the Lady Warriors’ leaders in free throws a year ago while shooting 19-of-29 from the stripe.
"I would say Greta is going to be, and even was last year, the rebounding force inside," Derr said. "I would describe her as being quite consistent. She’s a consistent foul shooter. With the things we don’t have this year, I feel like we need to compensate with being a good foul shooting team overall. Greta is good at foul shots. She’s that kid, that bigger girl, that will be responsible for guarding the biggest girls on the other teams. I’m fortunate that she’s very versatile because she has a shot everywhere. She can even shoot the ‘three.’"
Weidemoyer was kind of an understudy to Zimmerman the previous two seasons. This winter, the role will change for Weidemoyer, in that she will be a mentor of sorts for sophomore Alexa Mohler (5-foot-8), her teammate on the girls’ volleyball team in the fall. Mohler, who saw limited minutes off the bench in 2011-12, stepped up big in Warwick’s first scrimmage when Weidemoyer was unavailable to play.
"She was definitely a shining star in the (first) scrimmage," Derr said. "She did an amazing job … (Alexa) and Greta, because they’re teammates in volleyball, I just feel like they’ve got a great connection inside. They talk to each other, they have good jumping ability. Alexa is very conscientious. When we tell her, ‘Hey, you’ve got to be a rebounder both offensively and defensively,’ she’s my kid that does that. She’s also a decent foul shooter and she has a shot all-around."
Junior Morgan Haines (5-foot-9) should help out at forward for the Warwick girls.
"We’re on (Morgan) about being aggressive," Derr said. "We really want to see her be more aggressive. I want to see her really asking for the ball in the post and being in there and concentrating on the rebounds."
Aggressiveness inside will be key for the Warwick girls since they don’t necessarily have the size to match up with the 6-footers that they will face in Section One.
Although Warwick didn’t shoot the ball well in its second scrimmage against Susquehanna, Derr doesn’t believe that is an indication of the type of team that she has.
"I have a lot of confidence in Madi and Mere, Katie Hipple … I mean, these kids have played, they know the game," Derr said, "and honestly, I said to coach (Fred Gerfin), ‘The one thing I’m impressed with is from the last scrimmage, I don’t feel like I have that hesitation like I did last year where it was almost like we were begging the kids to score, (saying), ‘Come on, take the shots when you’re open.’ This year, I feel like they are understanding, ‘Look, we’re not going to tell you not to shoot unless we’re in a situation that we don’t want you to. We want you to be that offensive threat, so don’t be afraid.’"
With Hunt having moved on with her team-best 30 triples in 2011-12, Madi Derr and Michel figure to be Warwick’s top threats beyond the arc this winter.
"They tend to shoot it more I would say than probably any of the other girls on the team at this point," Derr said.
The Lady Warriors, of course, are hoping that enough of their shots fall to get them back into the post-season for a second straight year. They tip things up this weekend at the Berks Catholic Tournament, where they will face Governor Mifflin in their opener at 6 p.m. on Friday night. Warwick will then face either Berks Catholic or Garden Spot on Saturday, before hosting Lampeter-Strasburg next Wednesday, Dec. 12 and traveling to Lebanon on Friday, Dec. 14.
And yes, although the Lady Warriors are young, Derr still believes it’s realistic for her squad to be playing in the post-season.
"I set goals high and I feel like if the girls set their goals high, that’s a good thing to do for them," she said. "They’re good kids and you always want to do better than you did last year." More LADY WARRIORS, page B-6