Nothing Has Changed for Jets Girls’ Program
By RICK THORP
MORRISTOWN — The more things change, the more they stay the same.
It’s a sometimes overly used phrase. But it works well when describing the Union Local girls’ basketball program.
Since Kelley Hanlon took over the reins five years ago, the Jets have taken off literally.
Union Local has a bit of a reputation, one of a squad that likes to push the ball and shoot the 3.
“It might seem like the same team,” Hanlon said. “The fast breaks, the outside shooting and the 3-point shot; we do focus on those a lot in the offseason and just every day in practice.”
That strategy has served the Jets well. Hanlon has guided UL to the OVAC Tournament almost annually during her four seasons on the bench and claiming back-to-back Class 4A crowns.
“I think you start to have a tendency for what your team is known for,” Hanlon said. “I’ve tried to build a program. The junior high program is improving every year and, so, that helps me a lot when they come in as freshmen.
UL might not have a big post presence, but it sure has one at the point in guard Haley Porter.
The 5-foot-7 senior as been a mainstay there since she was a freshman, earning plenty of plaudits along the way.
“She did amazing things this summer on her travel team,” Hanlon noted.
It’s just an example, Hanlon said, of Porter’s undying love for the sport and a desire to always improve.
“I think her maturity certainly helps, too,” she continued. “I’ve never seen a player put as much effort into improving as her. She just gives it her all all year long.
“Even when she’s supposed to have a break she’s in the gym. She’s constantly trying to get better and it shows.”
Hanlon said Porter has been working on, among other things, her footwork and agility, things that go beyond the basics of just shooting.
And, Hanlon said, those habits are starting to rub off on her teammates.
“She’s always been at the point and that’s always a position of leadership,” she said, “but she’s always been quit about it.
“The seniors always took that over. But, this year, I’ve noticed it more from her. She’s the sole senior and she’s really stepped it up in regards to that this year.”
Sutherlynd Butler (5-9) started some games last year and is poised to make more noise this winter.
“She’s done very well in the offseason and she’s improved in the post,” Hanlon said. “But, she also a great perimeter shooter. We need her down there working on rebounding and getting stronger.”
Hannah Porter (5-4), Haley’s sister, will provided guard strength.
“I think her court sense has gotten a lot better,” Hanlon noted. “She’s always been a great shooter. I wouldn’t want to leave her al;one taking a 3. She’s kind of spot if left alone there. I’m happy with that, but I think the rest of her game has improved a lot.”
Allison Loase (5-5) is another junior.
“Last year she was in and out of the starting lineup,” Hanlon explained. “She is a very good shooter and likes to run the fast break. I’ll count on her to be one of the smart ones on the court.”
Lauryn Menges (5-4) is hoping to rebound from a preseason injury.
“She’s a good shooter and fast-break player,” Hanlon said.
Emily Robb (5-5), another junior, provides an inside presence.
“She works for rebounds and pushes her way inside,” Hanlon said. We’ll see what type of role she plays this year.”
Kaden Mercer (5-3) will serve as a guard.
“She’s an aggressive player,” Hanlon said. “That’s her best attribute. I’d go to her for defense. She can make things happen.”
Laryssa Brandon (5-7) rounds out the junior group.
“She has a nice jumper and we’re working with her to get her stronger inside,” Hanlon said.
Also fighting for varsity time will be sophomore Ellie Jonan (5-6).
Freshman Casey Kildow (5-6) has a could chance of getting plenty of playing time after impressing Hanlon this offseason. She said she’ll be varsity-only, something rarely seen from a freshman.
Hanlon is assisted by Mike Menges.
Nov. 27: Buckeye Trail 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 30: St. Clairsville 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 4: at Ridgewood 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 7: at Harrison Central 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 11: Martins Ferry 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14: Barnesville 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 16: Beaver Local 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 18: at St. Clairsville 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 21: Buckeye Local 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 27: at Fort Frye 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 30: at Cambridge 1 p.m.
Jan. 4: Harrison Central 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 8: at Martins Ferry 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 11: Bellaire 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 15: at Buckeye Trail 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 18: at Monroe Central 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 22: at Bellaire 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 25: at Barnesville 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 27: Buckeye 8 TBA
Jan. 29: John Marshall 7:30 p.m.