Perry returns just one starter from last season, but the Pirates have a host of experienced players ready to tackle a bigger challenge this winter.
The Pirates, who finished 20-6 overall and 8-0 in winning the Chagrin Valley Conference Lake Division title last winter, will line up a starting five with plenty of varsity minutes under its belt.
“We have a great group of competitive and hardworking players,” said sixth-year Perry coach Roy Infalvi. “Our top five were all able to get some quality varsity experience last season and are ready to take the next step. Our practices have been really good, and our young players have been stepping up to the challenge. Our practices have been up-tempo and competitive, and our players have responded well.”
Infalvi, who is 103-26 in his tenure at Perry, once again will rely on a pesky defense to set the tone for his team.
“Defense will be the key to our success this year,” he said. “If we can defend, it will keep us in games and give us better opportunities in transition and on the offensive end.”
While Perry’s starting five has the experience it needs to be competitive, the Pirates are much younger on the bench.
“We have some experience with our starters, but our bench is young and inexperienced on the varsity level,” Infalvi said. “We need to get them up to speed. We don’t have a lot of size on our team, so we are going to have to make up for that in other ways. We have to really work on rebounding and using our team speed to make up for our lack of size.”
Junior guard Audrey Austin is the team’s lone starter. She earned honorable mention All-CVC honors last winter.
“Audrey started for us last season and did a great job as more of a role player with an experienced team,” Infalvi said. “We are looking for Audrey to be more assertive this year on offense and defense. She has worked hard developing this and in practice, she has shown the assertiveness we are looking for. She is very skilled all around and has a good basketball IQ.”
Junior guard Victoria Lynch also earned honorable mention all-conference honors.
“Victoria has developed into a really good basketball player over the past few years,” Infalvi said. “She has worked all year on her game, and it is showing. She can be a threat shooting and taking the ball to the basket. Defensively, she is quick and has great instincts. Her on-court leadership has been tremendous.”
Rounding out the projected starting lineup are senior guard Abby Bartlett, junior forward Rosalyn Tharp, and sophomore guard Jaidyn Newsome.
“Abby has a great motor, and she puts in full effort 100 percent of the time. Her game has evolved on both ends and she is a great rebounder for her size. Her defense sets the tone for us and we will rely on her heavily to be a senior leader,” Infalvi said. “Ros is a tremendously athletic player who is efficient on both ends of the floor. Offensively, she works the paint really well but has the skills to handle the ball outside as well. Defensively, she is always in a good position and will be a problem for other teams. She works extremely hard in practice, which will pay off in her game. Jaidyn will handle the ball a lot for us this season. She has good ball skills, but the bonus is that she is a really good outside shooter. She can really be a triple threat for us because she can drive, shoot, and pass at a high level. Last season, she was able to get some quality varsity time as a freshman and that experience will pay off for us this season.”
Perry’s depth will come from senior forward Chloe Haase, junior forward Eva Jean, sophomore guard Audriana Polzer, and a host of freshmen.
“Chloe has really improved over the past four years in our program. We are excited to see what she does on the court this year. She is a hard worker in practice and always gets after it,” Infalvi said. “Eva does anything asked of her and does it 100 percent. She has a great work ethic and is very coachable. She continues to improve daily. Audriana has shown great improvement from her freshman year to this year. Her basketball IQ continues to grow daily. She has shown great progress and we are excited for her future in the program.”
The freshmen include guards Payton Winters and Andora Porcello, forward Mia Lynch, and guard/forward Katy Rockwell.
“Payton’s passion for basketball is like no other. She has worked hard at improving and developing her skills. She is always in the gym and her improvement is a testament to her hard work,” Infalvi said. “Mia has done great so far this year. She has been a great physical presence offensively, defensively, and on the glass. She is not afraid to get in and compete, which we are really excited about. Andora is a great athlete and is a skilled basketball player. She continues to develop and improve daily. We are excited and looking forward to big things from Andora this year and in the future. Katy has worked hard in practice and has shown great improvement. We have seen her improve daily on both ends. She has done a great job with her defensive positioning and communication. She will continue to improve and be impactful to our program in the future.”
Perry’s goals this season include defending its league title and then chasing down district and regional championships.
“We have to set the tone on defense and be efficient on offense,” Infalvi said. “We need to outwork our opponents both in our preparation and in our play.”