Girls’ Basketball Continues To Rebuild

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Players and coaches, from top row, left to right: Mady Starsia, Eleri Hayden, head coach Kris Wright. Deja Newton-Grant, Ava Coles, Isabel Shaffrey, Mary Burch. Ann Meenan, Shannon Moore, Elisabeth Coffman, Ellie Plantz, Anna O’Shea. (Managers unnamed.)

After back to back injury-riddled seasons, last year WAHS girls’ varsity basketball coach Kris Wright took the opportunity to reset team culture and rebuild. “Two years of major injuries to multiple kids really short-circuited our consistency,” he said. “Prior to that, we’d qualified for the state tournament twice in three years. The constant up-and-down and emotional upheaval that comes with an injury really has a lasting impact on a team’s mentality; it’s tough to shake.”

With the girls working hard, making progress and building confidence through the season, Wright was intent on paving the way for a successful 2016-17 showing. “With nine girls back from last year, we’re taking the ‘reset’ effort to the next step by trying to inject more intensity and consistency into things again,” said Wright. “We had higher participation numbers and commitment to offseason workouts and, thus far, despite some tough close losses, we’re becoming increasingly confident on the court.”

Senior Forward Eliri Hayden
Senior Forward Eliri Hayden

As far as team leaders go, Wright says he’s looking to senior forward Eleri Hayden. After suffering a major knee injury as a sophomore, Hayden came back in a big way in 2015-16, earning an unexpected spot on the All-District second team and an All-Conference honorable mention as well. “Eleri has a huge range as a player and is a major inside-outside threat for us,” said Wright. “She worked extremely hard in the offseason and that’s paying off right now. She has the spirit and grit to pull us together and be a leader in the toughest of situations. So we’re leaning on her quite a bit.”

Then there’s sophomore guard Elisabeth Coffman, who was named to last year’s All-District first team and All-Conference second team as a freshman. “Elisabeth has started every game in her career so far and she’s just a sophomore,” said Wright. “She has killer natural instincts for the game and is a tremendous passer and shooter. We’re looking for her to continue to evolve as a player and do even more spectacular things in the future.”

In addition to Coffman and Hayden, Wright names senior forward Deja Newton-Grant, junior forward Shannon Moore, and junior guard Mady Starsia as key players. “Each of these girls played a lot last year,” said Wright. “We’re hoping to continue to build on that experience and see them continue to improve.”

Senior Guard Ava Coles
Senior Guard Ava Coles

When asked about postseason prospects, Wright remains noncommittal. “Right now, I think we have a chance to be a competitor in the Jefferson District race,” he said. “But our focus remains on growing as a team and playing better basketball. We’re a long way off from mid-February—we’ll just have to see what the postseason brings when we get there.”

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