It will be difficult for the Perry girls’ basketball team to improve upon its dream season from a year ago when the team finished 23-2 with an appearance in the Division II regional semifinals, but the Pirates certainly will give it a shot.
Three starters return from last year and several others gained valuable experience.
“As a team, we have high expectations as far as what we want to achieve internally,” said fifth-year Perry coach Brindi Kandel. “Buying into the process of getting better every day, individually and as a group, will continue to be our focus. We are younger this year than we’ve been in the past, so finding the right chemistry on both ends of the floor will be a primary goal during the early part of the season.”
Seniors Claire Dolan and Emily Holroyd and junior Anna Sorine started last season and seniors Paige Chaplin and Sydney Charlton and junior Makenzie Hacking provided depth off the bench.
Newcomers Madyson Hacking and Elle Infalvi, both freshmen, also are expected to contribute this winter.
“As a whole, this group is pretty talented from an offensive standpoint; however, we will continue to focus on how good we can become defensively first and foremost,” Kandel said. “The girls understand that there are many more controllable factors on defense and in the rebounding department than there are when it comes to shots falling night in and night out. As a staff, we preach defense first, and hope that we can create easier offense because of that defense.”
Dolan and Holroyd both earned All-Chagrin Valley Conference honors last season.
Dolan averaged 13 points, 2 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals per game on the way to earning first team All-CVC, first team All-District and third team All-Ohio honors. She also participated in the Ohio Varsity Underclassmen Showcase at Ursuline College.
“Claire is an excellent shooter and has been our leading scorer for the last two seasons,” Kandel said. “She put in a lot of work in the offseason and has continued to develop other areas of her game that will help us compete at a high level this year. Her offensive output and leadership will continue to be vital to our success.”
Holroyd dropped 7.4 points per game while also pulling down 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest.
She was named honorable mention All-CVC and played in the Ohio Varsity Underclassmen Showcase.
“Emily is a tremendous athlete and often has to guard players who are taller than she is,” Kandel said. “She worked very hard in the offseason to become stronger and add an outside shot to her game. Her ability to score inside and be a presence in the post will be very important for our offense this year, along with her leadership as an upperclassman.”
Sorine averaged 5 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals per game last year from her point guard position.
“Anna is a great defender and is asked to guard the other team’s leading scorer every night,” Kandel said. “She’s an extremely hard worker and will have to take on a lot of the point guard duties this year, as well as find ways to create plays by getting to the rim, which is her strength.”
Chaplin has worked hard to become a better overall player and the Pirates will need her on both ends of the floor this season.
“Paige is a great shooter and has a high basketball IQ,” Kandel said. “Her ability to spread the floor and give us another shooting option will make us a tougher matchup defensively. As a senior, she’s learned our system and does a great job helping to teach the younger players, which makes for a smoother transition.”
Madyson Hacking is young but has plenty of talent and could be a key player for the Pirates this season.
“Madyson has worked extremely hard to prepare herself to be ready for varsity basketball,” Kandel said. “She’s a talented ball handler and shooter and has really worked on learning our defensive system as well. Madyson is the epitome of a ‘gym rat’ and it will pay off for her as she continues to elevate her game.”
For Perry to win another conference title and push forward in the postseason, the Pirates are going to have to come together early in the season to develop the necessary chemistry to win close games.
“They have to communicate constantly on both ends of the floor and play together,” Kandel said. “We can’t be successful if we don’t have all five girls playing as one. This goes for defense as much as offense.”