Back in 2007, Wickliffe’s girls’ basketball team set a school record with 17 wins.
Two weeks into the 2014-2015 season, ninth-year head coach Vince Granito is using that benchmark season to inspire his players to believe they can compete and win games in the Chagrin Valley Conference.
“There has to be a belief that we can compete with the CVC teams,” Granito said.
That’s a tall order considering both Beachwood and Cuyahoga Heights made runs to the regional finals last season.
Granito has focused on changing the mindset of his players as they prepare for a new season and he has good reason to be optimistic.
The Blue Devils return four starters and seven letter-winners from a team that finished 9-14 overall last season.
His team is fast, athletic and has the height to matchup with CVC opponents.
It all starts with 6-foot-3 post Mariah Porter. The senior is on pace to smash several school records that have stood for over 30 years. She led the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounds last season on her way to earning first team all-conference, second team all-district and honorable mention all-state honors.
“She set the school record for rebounds in a game and for a season last year,” Granito said. “She is tough in the post area once she gets the ball.”
Wickliffe’s roster includes six other seniors.
Carly Palgut, a 5-foot-10 forward, was honorable mention all-CVC and is the most athletic player on the roster.
“She can score anytime she takes the ball to the basket,” Granito said. “If she starts to gain confidence this year, she can become a major force.”
Point guard Alexis Gricar is a four-year varsity player. The 5-foot-4 defensive specialist regularly guards the opposing team’s best player. Gricar has been slowed by an ACL injury suffered last season.
Cassie Daye, a 5-foot-5 guard who was named honorable mention all-CVC last season, is the quickest player on the team.
“She is very athletic having had an excellent career as a member of the soccer team,” Granito said. “(She is a) great outside shooter.”
Angela Somody, a 5-foot-5 forward, and Rachel Thomeier, a 5-foot-7 combo guard/forward, also are expected to contribute. Somody is a first year starter and Thoemeier is a solid defender with a nice touch from behind the arc.
Abby Allen (5-foot-9) is expected to see action at forward and center.
Carlie Stephens is the lone non-senior on the varsity roster.
The 5-foot-5 junior guard should provide depth for the Blue Devils.
Granito is assisted by Mike Granito, Erica Sivak, Harrison McCall and Karrie Hopton.