By Kevin Prise
BARKER — The Barker girls basketball team may be just starting the winter season, but the level of player-coach familiarity throughout much of the team is about as high as it can be right now.
Basketball season may have started a couple of weeks ago, but coach Jeff Costello and a large portion of the lineup are still getting acclimated to the hardwood after a lengthy field hockey playoff run that ended in last Saturday’s double-overtime loss to Cazenovia in the state semifinals. In field hockey, Costello coached the majority of this winter’s 12-girl basketball roster, including first-team all-league field hockey players Olivia Denny and Melissa Grosshans, as well as goaltender Caitlyn Mason.
The Lady Raiders are now making the transition to basketball in preparation for the season opener against Kendall on Dec. 2, and they are excited to move past last year’s 4-10 season in Niagara-Orleans League play, hoping to carry the field hockey success onto the court.
“Last year, we struggled with getting shots and taking care of the ball,” Costello said. “But on the positive side, our defense was much improved from previous years. For this season, we’ve definitely gained some speed and quickness, and we’re hoping to be at least .500.”
Costello said that past Lady Raider basketball teams have struggled to produce rosters of double-digit players. This year’s squad has 13 girls, and Costello is excited at the luxury of being able to always run 5-on-5 drills without having to bring up JV players, which should only improve team chemistry and awareness on the court as the season progresses.
Barker returns its three leading scorers from last season in Denny, Mason and senior Julia Atwater. Denny, also a senior, has played at the varsity level since her freshman year, and her experience should serve as a calming presence for the rest of the starting lineup.
Mason, a sophomore, will join Denny in the backcourt, and Atwater will anchor the inside presence for the Lady Raiders. Atwater was the team’s leading rebounder last year, and looks to help fill the void caused by departed senior Sydney Webb, who ate up space inside and also grabbed a lot of rebounds, Costello said.
Also to be missed will be guard Kayla Moeller, who graduated as well.
Other field hockey players making the quick transition to basketball include junior Morgan Brown, senior Brooke Bodine, junior Gabby Clare and junior Alex VeRost. The roster is rounded out by juniors Kelsi Flegal, Maicie Baker, Alexis Morris and Monica LaRock.
It will certainly be tough to replicate the field hockey success on the basketball court this winter. But don’t expect Costello and his crew to back down from the challenge.
“If we can start protecting the ball better, and looking to shoot more, we should be okay,” Costello said.
2013-14 Barker Girls Basketball Schedule
Date Opponent Time
12/2 KENDALL 6 p.m.
12/13 NEWFANE 6:30 p.m.
12/18 @ Tonawanda 7 p.m.
12/20 AKRON 6:30 p.m.
12/28 LYNDONVILLE 11:30 a.m.
1/3 @ Wilson 6:30 p.m.
1/7 CSAT 6 p.m.
1/10 MEDINA 6 p.m.
1/14 @ Roy-Hart 6 p.m.
1/17 @ Albion 7 p.m.
1/21 @ Newfane 6:30 p.m.
1/24 @ Akron 6:30 p.m.
1/28 WILSON 6:30 p.m.
1/31 @ CSAT 6 p.m.
2/5 @ Medina 6:30 p.m.
2/11 ROY-HART 6 p.m.
2/13 ALBION 6 p.m.