The Elizabethtown-Lewis Lady Lions have started the 2012-13 season in dominating fashion, averaging over 50 points per game while holding opponents to less than 20.
A great start for a team that made the Section VII/Class D finals one year ago and is looking for a chance to get back to the PSUC Fieldhouse.
The squad is led by a core of players who have been together for four years at the varsity level.
“We have played together four years on varsity,” Shonna Brooks said. “That has been the biggest thing.”
“We know each other and we know how to play together,” Lily Whalen said.
“We know each other’s strengths and we know our weaknesses,” Kearsten Ashline said. “We know what makes each other tick.”
“This group has come together with the understanding that if they are going to do anything this season, they have to do it as a group,” head coach Don Ratliff said. “They know that the assist is just as valuable, if not more, as the basket.”
The Lions have spread the wealth so far, with seven players already in double digits and 10 scoring overall.
“There is no separation as far as a first or second team,” Ashline said. “Everyone contributes.”
“We have a lot of depth and everyone has stepped up so far this year,” Brooks said. “Jasmin Barnes has matured so much and has been a big key for this team.”
The Lions have also been strong on the defensive side of the ball.
“Our press has been effective,” Ratliff said. “We have worked hard to keep the other team out of the lane and we rebound well. We have not given teams a lot of second chances on the boards.”
“Defense is the most important part of our game if we are going to be successful,” Whalen said.
“We know that if we make a mistake on offense, it can be made up for on defense,” Brooks said.
“Coach stresses defense every practice,” Kylee Cassavaugh said. “Defense will be the key when we play Indian Lake/Long Lake.”
The Lions will host the Orange Friday, Dec. 14, with a 5 p.m. tip time. Last season, ELCS dropped both games against them, one in Indian Lake and the other in the sectional finals.
“Defensively, we could have played better games against them last year,” Ashline said. “I think that frustration also was a problem for us in the finals.”
“They adjusted well in the second half and we were caught off guard,” Brooks said.
“We have been working on the mental end of the game, making sure that we do not get too high or too low,” Ashline said.
“We need to up-tempo the game against them,” Ratliff said. “Their half-court offense is precise. We have to keep the game fast and use our depth as an advantage.”
“They were able to stop our break last year,” Brooks said. “We need to not let them have time to set up their defense and make sure that we take the open shots that we have. When we played down there, we hit a lot of our shots, we just didn’t take enough when they were open.”
The team also said they were looking forward to having a home game in what has become the latest Mountain and Valley rivalry.
“We need to go in confident and play strong from start to finish with the home crowd behind us,” Ashline said.
“It is a lot better to get the chance to play them here and have the home court,” Brooks said.
“These fans have been getting excited and getting behind this team, so having the crowd and support of the community will be big,” Ratliff said. “This group always gets energized by our fans, and that is why it means something to us.”