Girl’s basketball teams hit hard­wood

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Front Page - By John Brewer jbrewer@onei­dadis­ on Twit­ter

Last sea­son, sev­eral girls basketball sides in the Dis­patch area earned play­offs berths fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful reg­u­lar sea­son.

Few were able to sus­tain a deep run in the play­offs, and with the new sea­son in its in­fancy, lo­cal teams are look­ing to build off of last sea­son’s suc­cess and make a deeper run in sec­tion­als.

Oneida projects as one of the fa­vorites this sea­son in the Tri-Val­ley Pi­o­neer League fol­low­ing a trip to the sec­ond round of the Sec­tion III Class B play­offs that ended in a five-point loss to Utica Notre Dame. Af­ter fin­ish­ing sec­ond last year with an 8-4 league record, two games be­hind Utica Notre-Dame, ninth-year coach Katie Nestler’s side re­turns five starters in Ju­lianna Ca­vanagh, Lau­ren Sk­ibit­ski, Anna Hood, Gabby Cafalone and Syd­ney Lusher.

With her five starters back, Nestler is look­ing to lean on the team’s ex­pe­ri­ence and ath­letic back­court to push the tempo and wear down Oneida’s Tri-Val­ley foes. The veteran squad will also re­ceive a boost in the form of new­com­ers Sophia Skin­ner, Hanna Kim­ball, and Jessie Russ.

Like Oneida, cross-county ri­val Ver­non-Verona-Sher­rill en­joyed a play­off bid last sea­son, top­ping Canas­tota in the open­ing round of the sec­tion­als be­fore fall­ing to Bishop Grimes in the sec--

ond round. Seven year var­sity coach Randy Thomas re­turns three starters: ju­nior guard/for­ward combo Alexa Kiser; se­nior guard McKenna Berry; and se­nior for­ward Emily Rossi. The three vet­er­ans will look to gel with an ex­cit­ing group of play­ers that have been called up from ju­nior var­sity as the Red Devils look to build on last year’s 5-7 Tri-Val­ley record. Fresh­man Mor­gan Brewer and Anna Rossi, along with se­nior Emily D’Agostino are play­ers to watch on a side look­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on its depth, speed, and de­fense to make a deeper play­off push.

In the OHSL Lib­erty Amer­i­can League, the Chit­te­nango Bears have set their sight on a sec­tional push af­ter earn­ing a firstround bye and play­off bid last sea­son be­fore fall­ing to Cazenovia by two points in the sec­ond round. Sec­ond year coach Kassie Kleine re­turns starters Syd­ney Ben­nett and Ally Shoe­maker from last sea­son’s 12- 9 squad in a league stocked with four other teams that fin­ished the sea­son with a record above the .500 mark: Bishop Lud­den, Bishop Grimes, Homer, and Chris­tian Broth­ers Academy.

A fewmiles east on Route 5, coach Vinny Sala­m­one and his Canas­tota Raiders are look­ing to im­prove each time out and make the sec­tion­als like they did in 201617. Se­nior April Dabrowski and ju­nior Kacey Cashel re­turn to Canas­tota’s start­ing lineup as the Raiders pre­pare for an­other sea­son in the CSC-1 with the likes of Hol­land Pa­tent, Sher­burneEar­lville and Adiron­dack. Fresh­man Jes­sica Evans is a new­comer to watch for a Canas­tota team that fin­ished 0-8 in league play but 9-12 over­all last sea­son.

In south­ern Madi­son County, Stock­bridge Val­ley is look­ing to re­peat as Cen­tral County League cham­pion af­ter go­ing un­de­feated in league play last year and fin­ish­ing with a 19-2 over­all record which in­cluded a trip to the Sec­tion III Class D semi­fi­nals. First year coach Jay Lehmann’s Cougars have an in­ter­est­ing com­po­si­tion, with two se­niors, two sopho­mores, four fresh­man and an eighth­grader round­ing out the ros­ter as Stock­bridge Val­ley pre­pares its ti­tle de­fense. Se­nior Ash­leigh Staudt and eighth-grader Jil­lian Ja- cobs will reprise their start­ing roles, while sopho­more Kelly Greene and se­nior Alaina Beanewill tran­si­tion into the start­ing lineup.

The Hamil­ton Emer­ald Knights are be­gin­ning a youth move­ment for the 2017-18 cam­paign with a team makeup con­sist­ing of a sin­gle se­nior, three sopho­mores, and six fresh­man. Sixth-year head coach GaryWeeks will look to cap­i­tal­ize on his team’s ath­leti­cism to make up for the lack of ex­pe­ri­ence on a side that re­turns Lau­ren La Ruffa and Beth Be­langer. New­com­ers Beth Dawkins, Ash­ley La Ruffa, Emma Basher, Ker­ri­gan Kelly, and Lau­ren Ro­driguez join an Emer­ald Knight team that fin­ished 8-13 over­all last sea­son and 2-6 in CSC Divi­sion IV play. Di­vi­sional play may be tur­bu­lent for Hamil­ton with heavy­weights Oriskany and New York Mills re­turn­ing a num­ber of veteran play­ers and a loaded Water­ville join­ing the league.


Oneida’s Lau­ren Sk­ibit­ski (20) drib­bles the ball as New Hart­ford’s Tay­lor Torchia (4) de­fends dur­ing a 2016-17con­test.


Stock­bridge Val­ley’s Jil­lian Ja­cobs ad­vances the ball dur­ing a 201617game.


Ver­non-Verona-Sher­rill’s Alexa Kiser (21) brings the ball up the court against Oneida dur­ing their game in Oneida on Fri­day, Jan. 27, 2017.

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