The Deer Isle-Stonington girls basketball team returns with five players who have major varsity experience from last season. Add two players who played minutes last year and another who played her first two years and you have a solid core for this season. They have a new head coach this season, Randy Shepard, who assisted Darren Eaton last year. Coach Shepard is looking to get everyone working together by Christmas vacation and have a strong second half of the season to make the playoffs.
The seniors include the three captains, Morgan Shepard, Holli Boyce and Logan Eaton. Morgan Shepard will anchor the post inside. Holli Boyce will provide ball handling and outside offense. Logan Eaton is a forward who will provide both offense and defense. Mallory Gommo provides good inside height and rebounding. Allison Cormier has played two years at forward and gives us an athletic scorer and rebounder.
The juniors include Allyson Eaton who has strong offense and rebounding. Ashley Haskell handles the ball and has been improving her offense as well. Natalie Knowlton saw a lot of varsity time last year and is a utility player who can play many positions.
The sophomores include Jesslyn Gove who showed good defense last year and is improving her offense. Madison Frazier saw some time last year and has worked hard for improvement. Sonya Shepard did cheering last year but has shown good progress so far.
The only freshman on the team is Orly Vaughan (not Amy; sorry, Orly) who has inside height and is working to play at the varsity speed. Coach Shepard feels she has a lot of potential once she feels comfortable at this level.
The girls have the experience and leadership to be successful. We are very strong with defense. The two big keys for this team will be to be more aggressive on offense and to strengthen the bench players. We will need to build their skills to integrate them with the experienced players and work together as a unit. We have to develop the ability to put more balls in the hoop, whether in the half court or in transition.
We definitely have the talent to do better than last year and make the playoffs. The Achilles Heel that we have to overcome is turnovers and beating the press. The better teams use the press to diffuse offenses and score easy baskets. Coach Shepard has been stressing fundamentals to reduce turnovers. The key is to have a plan and focus on what we can do in these situations.
Turnovers happen when we get in panic mode and don’t make good choices. It takes teamwork to overcome this, knowing where to be and what to do in these situations. If we can build the chemistry between experience and youth, we will do well.
Coach Shepard feels he will work with the old school philosophy of building on the fundamentals and getting everyone in condition. He played under the tutelage of Joe Mesi, as have other successful coaches, and carries that work ethic into practice. If we can play our game and within our limits, we should improve as we go into the season and be a stronger team in the second half.
The one thing that will hurt us in the future is the lack of any junior varsity play. There were a number of girls who came out to tryout, but, without any junior varsity activity, will not play this year. When the five seniors leave next year, this will leave a big void in the team.