Optimism for ’Jackets girls

Williamstown performs in tough offseason training

File photo Williamstown’s Keely Alsup handles the ball during a 2017-18 high school girls basketball game.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Williamstown girls basketball coach Fred Sauro will begin his 50th season in coaching in 2018 and the veteran head coach was quite pleased with what he saw in his squad as it wrapped up the three-week offseason schedule last week.

Sauro and his staff elected to have their girls participate in several shootouts during the period, including a trip to Morgantown where they played no less than two state championship teams from a season ago in Wheeling Central (single-A) and North Marion (double-A).

“We purposely played a very tough schedule in the offseason because we have a very tough schedule this season,” said Sauro, whose team graduated just one player (Bethany Wagner) from a squad that posted an 18-6 record in what many anticipated to be a rebuilding season last year. “Although we finished just about .500 it was one of the best summers we’ve had in some time. It was great to see the kids grow and develop.”

The ‘Jackets also participated in summer leagues at Blennerhasset and Belpre as well as a shootout in St. Marys that saw them go 6-0.

Sauro expects to have plenty of depth on his squad this fall as four starters return as well as several other girls who played key roles in last years success.

Seniors Bethany Arnold, Izzy Erb and Jenna Pridemore as well as junior Keely Alsup return as does junior Mara Rinehart.

Arnold was a second-team all-state selection last year as well as a first-team all-conference pick.

Several other girls displayed the ability in the summer to impress their head coach and set themselves up for increased playing time in the fall.

“One thing we learned is that we should be a very deep basketball team,” said Sauro, who will begin his 34th season as Williamstown head coach this winter. “You play at a certain pace when you are younger and we spent the summer trying to increase that pace and I think they did a good job at that.”

Sophomore point guard Nicole Reynolds and junior Kayli Sauro are among those who have had excellent summers along with sharp-shooting junior Taylor Newton and sophomore Jayla Wiseman.

Senior Breanna Lowe missed most of the summer due to injury while the trio of freshman Lakyn Joy, sophomore Gracie Graham and junior Brittany Hooper all have been impressive as well.

Sauro estimated that he had his whole team together for only a couple of games in the three-week period as injuries to Alsup and Hooper as well as vacations and participation in other sports limited their time together.

“We have to share athletes with other sports like volleyball and soccer and we try to work together on scheduling,” said Sauro. “We had a very good summer though and I think it will make us much better later in the year.”