The Lakota West girls’ basketball team will open the 2012-2013 season at Mount Notre Dame Monday night with a roster that includes three freshmen and three sophomores.“We are obviously going to be, perhaps, the youngest varsity basketball team in the league,” Lakota West head coach Andy Fishman said. “However, I don’t think that means we should set our sights any lower or the expectations that we have, which is to compete for championships.”
The Firebirds head into their season opener without the services of its senior leader Emily Niehaus and junior post player Amanda Gallof, who are both out with foot injuries.
Those injuries make sophomore Lauren Cannatelli the team’s only returning starter from last year. As a freshman, Cannatelli led the Firebirds in minutes played per game with 22 and was second in points scored per game with 7.7.
Starting alongside Cannatelli will be junior post player Elisabeth Carter, who unlike her fellow upper class teammates is healthy after playing through a foot injury last season. Despite playing hurt, Carter still averaged 13 minutes, 2.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
Hoping to earn starts alongside Cannatelli and Carter are freshmen Danielle Wells, Lexi Wasan and Nia Staples, as well as sophomores Arianne Whitaker and Lara Aull.
“If we are going to have freshmen or sophomores on varsity, as with the case with Lauren last year, you have to know that they are good for at least half a game to justify not getting them minutes at a lower level,” Fishman said.
Although inexperienced, the Firebirds drew the respect of the region’s girls’ basketball coaches – receiving the ranking of No. 6 in The Cincinnati Enquirer preseason poll.
“I expect this group to be very competitive,” Fishman said. “Although I don’t expect them to play with great experience, I do expect them to play with great desire, a great fellowship and that winning attitude that really puts them in position to be winners regardless the outcome of the game.”
After Monday’s season opener, Lakota West will open its home schedule and its conference schedule on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against Oak Hills. On Saturday, the Firebirds will host Princeton – No. 1 in The Enquirer preseason coaches’ poll – at 2 p.m.