All three of the area’s Central Counties League girls’ basketball teams have a good number of players back from last season, and two have new coaches this time around.
Jared Tiffin is the third coach in two seasons for DeRuyter as he replaces athletic director Sherri Smith, who took over the duties from Heidi Terrell last winter after the campaign was underway. At McGraw, meanwhile, Alex Stacy is the new coach after Taylor Houseman guided a young squad in its return to the varsity level after a hiatus of several years.
DeRUYTER ROCKETS | Coach: Jared Tiffin
Tiffin inherits eight players from a Rockets team that tied Cincy for third in the league standings at 5-7 and wound up 6-13 overall after a first-round loss at West Canada Valley in Class D sectionals.
Senior forward Andrea Chapman was an all-league first-team selection last year and is back for her fourth season as a varsity player. She is joined by classmates Michaela Gordon (guard), Alexis Marshall (center) and Addison Randall (forward) as well as junior forwards Paige Russell and Mya Lawrence, sophomore guard Madison Russell (Paige’s sister) and sophomore forward Anna Glisson.
Chapman, Gordon and Marshall are the team captains.
The newcomers, up from last year’s Modified team, are freshman guard Taylor Way and freshman center Sawyer Mierke.
Honorable mention center Bethany Price was among the graduation losses and senior guard Addison Randall was lost to an injury.
“We are blessed with height and experience,” Tiffin said. “Our success starts with rebounding and a good interior game. We need to be good around the basket and make our layups. With a good interior game, we will be able to open up the outside shot. If we can handle the boards, make the shots we are supposed to make, and play strong defense, we will be a good basketball team.
“Another key is senior leadership. We have three seniors who have a lot of experience who can help the younger players grow throughout the year. That is an amazing luxury to have.”
In discussing aspirations for the upcoming season, Tiffin noted that “Our team goal every year is to win our league and go to sectionals. As a coach, my goal is for the girls to go out, have fun, play hard, and respect the game. But most importantly, that they are able to walk away at the end of the year knowing they became better basketball players.
“Being my first year, I’m not exactly sure what to expect from our league. What I do know is that the conference is always very competitive. I think if we stay true to ourselves and do the little things, we will have a chance to be competitive. “
CINCINNATUS RED LIONS | Coach: Joe Hobby
The Red Lions have five players back from the team that lost to Poland in a first-round Class D sectional game to close at 7-13 overall. Junior guard Kyleigh Eaton averaged 8.9 points and 2.9 steals per game and made the all-league second team. Junior forward Destiny Bushnell, senior guards Sarah Clements and Madelynne Newton and senior guard/forward Ciara Zeeuw are Cincy’s other veteran players.
Eaton, Bushnell and Clements are the captains.
This season’s rookies are junior forward Emma Gendron and sophomore guard Hannah Enright, both up from last year’s JV team, and two freshman who played on the Modified team last season, guard McKayla Maroney and forward Alexia Abbatiello.
Graduation losses included second-team all-league forward Caitlyn Gerrard (7.8 points. 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game) and honorable mention guard McKenzie Lidell.
“Kyleigh and Destiny will be asked to lead an inexperienced group,” said Hobby. “They both have two years of varsity experience. Both played roles in our league championship two years ago as freshmen. Their knowledge of our system and making plays on the court will be vital for our team’s success.
“Sarah also returns and will be asked to fill a huge void at guard with ballhandling responsibilities, 3-point shooting and getting others involved. Emma should help us close up the middle, rebound affectively and contribute to an overall team defensive mentality.”
Hobby has led Cincy to two league titles and four sectional berths in his five seasons as coach and has high aspirations for his team. “Our goals every year are to win the CCL and earn a sectional home playoff game,” he said. “In the past, when we’ve achieved those goals, we’ve played in the quarterfinals with a chance to get to Onondaga CC (the site of the sectional semifinals and final). I feel that Cincinnatus can be a Section 3 Class D girls’ basketball program that challenges perennially to be at OCC the first weekend in March.
“Whether it happens this year or in the near future, the administration, parents and resources create a community of support where we can realistically believe in achieving our goals.”
McGRAW EAGLES | Coach: Alex Stacy
Three players from last year’s Eagles squad, which was 0-12 in league play and 0-19 overall, return as former Cortland High three-spot athlete Stacy takes over after coaching the Modified team last season. Junior forward Jeanne Beveridge (3.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, 11 blocks) was an all-league honorable mention to lead the way. Also on the list of veterans are junior guard Taylynn Tryon and junior forward Tia Mabry.
Beveridge and Tryon will captain the Eagles this season.
This season’s newcomers are sophomore forward/guard Juliet Smith, freshman forward Paige Euson, freshman forward/guard Greta Simmonds and eighth-grade guard Karissa Wilbur. Smith is new to the program while Euson, Simmonds and Wilbur are all up from last year’s Modified squad.
“We are a very young team, but that is to be expected with such a young program,” Stacy said. “Something we have discussed and emphasized as a team is ‘embracing our struggle.’ We aren’t big in numbers and we do not have a lot of experience, but what we will have this year is unmatched effort. In order for us to be successful, we will need to have a persistent work ethic each and every day we are on the court. Focus, discipline, and attention to detail are things that are often preached at our practices.
“It being my first year as a head coach in this league, there will be a catching-up process as far as scouting is concerned. After a disappointing season last year, I’m not sure what other teams in our league expect from us this year. I know what we expect of ourselves, though. These girls work very hard. There is a positive atmosphere every day at practice and I believe that there is a solid foundation for the future of this program in place. An advantage to being young is that we can grow as a team together. I am excited about the direction we are going.”