Bellaire girls seeking to continue success
BELLAIRE — There are a lot of unknowns for John Farrier as he enters his sixth season as head coach of the Bellaire girls basketball program. However, he is excited about what he doesn’t know.
During his tenure, the Big Reds have been one of the finer girls hoop programs in the Ohio Valley. However, with great teams come great players. Not only did Farrier and Co. lose the Ohio Division III Player of the Year in Katrina Davis from last year, but they saw another pair of 4-year starters graduate a year earlier after helping the 2019-20 team to the program’s first OVAC championship in the tournament era and an eye-lash of reaching the Ohio Division III ‘Sweet 16.’
“It’s a little different. Two years ago we graduated a pair of 1,000-point scorers and last year we graduated the Division III Player of the Year,” Farrier said of Maci Crozier, Natalie Stoner and Davis, respectively. “We need a lot of people to step up and kind of replace Katrina. She did it all for us, so we’re going to do it by committee.
“I know we will play hard, but I’m still not sure where all the pieces will come from and who is going to step up their game,” Farrier admitted.
Davis, currently at Bluefield State, finished third in female scoring in school history with 1,564 points. The 5-3 dynamo set a new program mark for steals with 433 and was third all-time in rebounds.
“This season definitely has a different feel to it, but it’s been really exciting in practice because we have a lot of girls competing for spots,” Farrier allowed. “It’s created a good atmosphere during practice. I feel good when I come here to work because a lot of these girls are working hard and they are trying to do the things that we as coaches are looking for so they can earn some playing time.
“We have a bout 12 girls battling for playing time. That has also created a good practice environment that I am really excited about.”
He is hoping some of the girls can take what they saw while watching and playing with the aforementioned trio and use it to their advantage.
“We’ve tried to create a program where when we lose a great player or two, we have someone there to step in. These girls have seen how hard Maci, Natalie and Katrina worked to achieve what they did,” Farrier continued. “That’s what happens when you have a successful program. There is a carryover from the previous year and they try to emulate what they did and follow their footsteps.
“I think we have a lot of girls that are hungry to do just that. We do return 4-5 girls that started at some point last year. Three of them may have started more regularly than the others, so we do have some returners but not a lot that were relied on heavily for scoring or rebounding.”
In addition to losing Davis, also picking up their diplomas were Mia Gavarkavich and Tayah Frazier. The trio were part of a program-best 79 victories in their four years. Gavarkavich scored 7-8 points a game and Tayah played really good defense, Farrier noted.
“We’ve got some girls that were a part of a lot of those wins, so they know how to win. They’ve been around three 20-win seasons. They’ve seen it and a lot of times success breeds success.”
While Farrier doesn’t expect another 20-win campaign, he does expect to be competitive.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” he stressed. “If we go out there, work as hard as we possibly can and do the things we are capable of doing, I think we will be very competitive and have success.
“We have 12-13 girls battling for varsity spots,” he acknowledged. “They know that if they are not getting the job done, they know they are coming out and going to the bench and we’re going to replace them with someone else that is capable. That is showing in practice as the girls are working hard and they know what we expect.”
Bellaire is definitely not blessed with height, but Farrier still expects his team to get up and down the floor.
“This is pretty much par for the course. We haven’t gotten any taller. In fact, if it is possible, I think we might have got smaller,” he admitted. “However, we still want to play up-tempo and run the floor.”
The roster doesn’t include a player taller than 5-9 and returnees include seniors Jayden Lowe (5-6), 5-3 Kayleigh Leigh (5-3) and Shayleigh Sochor (5-2); juniors Jenna Miller (5-2) Lauren Hamilton (5-4); and sophomores Lizzie McAninch(5-6) and Anna Pramik (5-8).
Lowe started every game last year, scoring about six points a contest.
Leigh has started some games in her career and has only missed three open-gym workouts in the summer during her career.
Miller started most of the season last winter while Hamilton is in the mix, as well.
McAninch tallied 24 points in a game last year, so Farrier said he is expecting a lot of scoring from her.
Pramik started the season-opener last year but then suffered a season-ending knee injury. Farrier expects her to be full strength and contribute on both ends of the court.
Rounding out the Big Reds roster are senior Kaya Chilson (5-4); sophomores Sophie Porter (5-4), Deena Call (5-9), Abby Craig (5-1) and Bethany Bonar (5-8); and freshmen Allie Ault (5-6)and Sidney Rowson (5-5).
Hutch McFeely returns as Farrier’s top assistant at varsity level. Amanda Whitecotton-Collins and Marci Quirk are helping at the junior high level.
“Marci has been a head coach at Union Local and here, so I feel good about our coaching staff,” he said.
Farrier is an impressive 87-34 in his five seasons.