Bellaire Looks to Build on Last Season’s 21-3 Mark
By RICK THORP
BELLAIRE — A year ago, the Bellaire’s girls’ basketball team burst on the scene with a brand of fast-paced, high-pressure, get-in-your-face hoops that left most of its opponents befuddled.
Coach John Farrier’s Big Reds rolled through the regular season, finishing 20-2 and earning a home sectional contest against Coshocton. Bellaire cruised in that contest, setting up a home date vs. highly touted Ridgewood and West Liberty-bound senior Audrey Tingle for the crown.
The Generals humbled the Big Reds on that Saturday night. And while Bellaire finished with a sparkling 21-3 mark, members of the team were unfulfilled. So, when the offseason began, they felt they had some unfinished business to take care of.
“We’re definitely excited to get it and start the season and see if we can build from last year,” Farrier said. “Our girls have been working hard in the preseason. Obviously, we’re a fast-pace team and we try to do that in practice. We’ve been getting after each other. Hopefully, that will help is in games and raise the level of play of everyone in the program.”
Taylor Stoner was the only player lost to graduation, so the Big Reds come back this season well-stocked and eager to get back on the court.
“We know we have our leading scorers back,” Farrier said. “We had some goals last year and we exceeded some and some we didn’t achieve.
“We realize we will try to step up the ladder. We think we made progress last year. Twenty-one wins is a pretty impressive total. We definitely want to take another step up the ladder and get those wins in those big games.”
And they’ll be plenty of opportunities this season as Bellaire has upgrades its schedule to include the likes of Wheeling Park, Wheeling Central, along with Buckeye 8 opponents Farrier believes have improved.
“Park and Central contend for state titles almost every year,” he said. “Those two teams will help challenge us and prepare us for the (postseason) tournament. I think they’ll be tough games and good for people to see and for players to play in.”
Farrier knows his team’s strengths and weaknesses and impresses those upon his players daily.
“The thing about our girls is we have to realize we need to come out and work hard every day because we’re going to be undersized,” he said. “We can’t let up on anyone on our schedule. We need to play our hardest every night.
“We can’t get satisfied. We have to play tenacious defense.”
Maci Crozier (5-foot-5) was the team’s leading scorer last year.
“Her outside shot and baseline shout is like a layup,” Farrier said. “Her shooting has gotten way better and she’s a good defender inside and plays hard.
“She’s one of the most-coachable players and one of the most-dedicated.”
Another junior is Michaela Flaherty (5-9).
“She’s a very skilled post player and has a knack for getting to the foul line,” Farrier said. “She has the whole package offensively.”
Natalie Stoner, a 5-4 junior, is a threat to shoot the 3 at any time, while Farrier calls 5-3 sophomore Katrina Davis a “Russell Westbrook” type.
“She can rebound, she can score; she just has a knack defensively,” he said. “She just does everything she needs to do.”
Farrier has also been impressed by the improvements made by seniors De’Asia Burney (5-2) and Cierra Davis (5-4) — the team’s lone seniors.
Rounding out the varsity roster are juniors Sydney Purtiman (5-8), Brittany Falcone (5-4) and Brittany Beckett (5-4), and sophomore Mia Giavarckavich (5-4).
“We’re hoping to climb the ladder,” Farrier said. “The biggest thing is to sell out every game. We have a lot of challengers on our schedule. “This year, I think a lot of teams are up-and-coming and I think we will need to stay will need to be able to stay with them.”
Farrier is assisted by Hutch McFeely.