Shadyside girls hope to ‘bring the juice’ each game
SHADYSIDE — Thanks to an extended volleyball tournament run and an unfortunate bout with COVID-19 issues, the Shadyside girls basketball team had a delayed start to its season.
Now with a couple of games and only a few more practices under their belt, the Lady Tigers are settling in for what they hope will be a season in which they’re able to take the next step.
Last season, a year removed from a trip to the Division IV state semifinals, the Tigers finished with a very solid 17-7 record. However, Gentile and company feel like they may have let a few victories get away. Included were in the OVAC tournament and in the sectional championship when they fell on their home floor in overtime to Wheeling Central and Rosecrans, respectively.
“We had our chances, but we seemed to sometimes hit a string of bad luck in some games,” Gentile said. “Sometimes the ball bounces your way and other times it doesn’t. We had chances in those games. Like after each season, we did a self-assessment, and I know I could have coached better. It was just an up-and-down season. We didn’t always bring the juice that we needed.”
Gone from that squad are Brooke Selmon, Julie Hendershot and Madisyn Stewart.
When the pre-season started in late October, the majority of the Lady Tigers key pieces were still playing volleyball for a team that won the OVAC 2A title and advanced to the regional tournament for the first time in school history.
The delayed start — for that reason — was totally OK in Gentile’s book.
“When you’re a small school and community, the (good) athletes play all of the sports, and I love that our girls do that,” Gentile said. “The only way (athletes) learn to compete is by lining up against someone and playing. No matter the sport you play, it helps you with other sports.”
Gentile is hopeful that the Tigers have their toughest bout with COVID-19 behind them, but he’s also not naive to the fact that the season could have its ups and downs in terms of navigating through the pandemic.
“We talk about controlling the controllables,” Gentile said. “We don’t give too much thought to this or that because it doesn’t do anyone any good. We have to worry about what’s in front of us and keep working to put ourselves in the best environment we can.”
Like all coaches, Gentile is disappointed his team missed out on the usual summer schedule of leagues, shootouts, etc. Plus, he and Director of Athletics John Triveri spent much of November trying to rebuild portions of the schedule because of the late start West Virginia is getting to its season cost the Lady Tigers a quartet of games.
“Basketball coaches are a different breed,” Gentile laughed. “We’ll play anyone. If we have to pick up a game day of, we’ll do it and make it work. We’re going to do all we can to provide as close to a full season and normal season as we can for the kids.”
On the court, Shadyside wants consistency. Both in its play and approach on a day-to-day basis.
“We just have to get better one day at a time and truly be consistent on the defensive end, in our communication and making sure we’re doing the little things well,” Gentile said. “I think we have the talent, skill and athleticism to be successful, but we have to do those things that make you good.”
The Tigers boast two of the top players in the area in seniors Tory Hendershot (5-5) and Baylee Wach (5-6).
“We have two 1,000-point scorers back, so that’s a good place to start,” Gentile said. “They’re great players, great kids, great scorers and great teammates.”
Both Hendershot and Wach surpassed the 1,000-point milestone last season.
En route to as myriad of post-season accolades, Hendershot scored 17.6 points, six rebounds and three assists per game.
Wach, meanwhile, was right behind her at 17 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals an outing.
The third senior is Kamdyn Elerick (5-4). She is expected to be in the starting lineup as well. She’s been a solid contributor off the bench each of the last two seasons.
Another returning starter and multi-year letterman is junior Paige Gorby (5-9), who will be the Tigers center at 5-9.
Sophomore Gentry Brown (5-7) — fresh off a huge season in volleyball — is back out for the team and is expected to move into the starting lineup after coming off the bench en route to a letter last winter.
“Kam is a streaky shooter, I think Paige can be a really, really good player and Gentry is going to be a key piece for us this season,” Gentile said.
With the starting lineup basically set, the biggest challenge for Gentile is establishing depth.
“Our bench is unchallenged,” Gentile said. “We’re looking at a lot of first-year players.”
Freshman Macy Hendershot (5-9) is expected to be the top sub. Gentile is high on her and expects her to be a contributor.
“Macy could play a huge role for us,” Gentile said. “It might take her a little bit of time to get used to the speed and physicality of the varsity game, but she’ll be fine.”
Other freshmen looking to get into the mix are Kaelee Stewart (5-6), Maggie Sims (5-7) and Addie Sims (5-6).
“Depth is our biggest concern,” Gentile said. “It’s up to Coach (Brandon) Parr and I to get these freshmen up to speed and prepared to play in the games. A whole of things can happen and we need to make sure those kids are ready to step into a role to be successful and not just throw them to the wolves.”
Additional depth is supplied by sophomore Alex Dippel (5-9).
While Shadyside has made a living shooting the 3-pointer the last few seasons and will get their fair share of attempts from behind the arc up again, Gentile would like to see his team work to score more in the paint.
“We have the ability to shoot the ball and stretch the defense, but we need to find other ways to score,” Gentile said. “We lack size, so we’re not just going to throw it into the post, but we can drive the ball and get to the basket. We need to continue to push the pace.”
Brandon Parr is back as the chief assistant, while Shayla Holenka and Hayley Kinemond are the junior high coaches.