With depth, experience and a strong defense, Penns Valley has strong expectations for the coming season. The Lady Rams did lose two of their top scorers from last season in Karli Ripka and Mackenzie Ironside, so finding who will take over those points is a mystery to be solved this season, but the team will have plenty of candidates.
“It’ll be who can consistently score,” said coach Karen McCaffrey, entering her 19th season leading the program. “We’re looking for outside shooting. We have a lot of freshmen from last year that saw time, they’re now sophomores, they’re young, but they’ve been playing well, and they have leadership.”
Where the Lady Rams should expect reliability is on defense, a staple of the program under McCaffrey, and turning defensive plays into offensive production.
“If we work hard defensively we can be in every game,” she said. “Whether or not the shots fall, I think (defense is) something we pride ourselves on, that we work hard on the defensive end.”
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The team’s leadership starts with Maci Ilgen, the top returning scorer at forward, and she, Kourtney Beamesderfer and Alicia Houser are the experienced trio which the rest of the team is expected to follow.
McCaffrey expects to use the team’s speed and depth to their advantage, figuring she can use 10 players without fearing much of a drop in production.
“I don’t have a starting lineup now,” McCaffrey said, “and starting may be overrated. I think they’re all going to see the floor.”
Head coach: Karen McCaffrey (third season, 19 th season overall)
Assistant coaches: Rob Irwin, Dr. Thomas Butler, Garrett Milner, Megan Houser
Last season: 19-6, lost in District 6 AA semifinals
Key losses: Karli Ripka, Makenzie Ironside
Returning letterwinners: Emma Butler, Maci Ilgen, Isabella Culver, Kourtney Beamesderfer, Alicia Houser, Peyton Homan, Jordan Andrus
Key newcomers: Paige Kubalak, Dayna Brown, Hannah Montminy