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W.VA. PREP BASKETBALL PREVIEW: All Five Starters Return for Linsly Girls

WHEELING — Experience, depth, size, a good inside-outside game and the ability to handle the ball are all qualities of a good high school basketball team and are all things that Linsly Head Coach Rebecca Upton has in her 2021 girls’ squad.

Coming off a 9-10 campaign last year, Upton has all five of her starters back this season, including a trio of seniors.

While the three seniors will definitely have the opportunity to leave their respective marks things start on the inside with junior center Carleigh Grimm.

“Carleigh is just fantastic,” Upton mentioned. “She is the only “true” post player on our roster, but her skill-set allows us to do a lot of different things with her. Carleigh is very strong and agile and can attack the basket on the inside or even step back and make a three-pointer.”

Senior leadership will be provided by guards Nevaeh Cook (5-5), Molly Heron (5-9) and Brinley Steen (5-7) while the fifth starter will once again be 5-3 junior guard Haley Heitz.

Another pair of seniors will provide depth in 5-9 forward Favour Oladapo and 5-2 guard Lourdes Giovengo while a trio of newcomers in 5-9 junior forward Kailyn Wilson, 5-6 junior guard Ally Hicks and 5-4 freshman guard Alyna Cook will also be in the mix for playing time.

Others battling to see the court include sophomores Baeleigh Burwell (5-8, guard), Chloe Ratcliffe (5-7, guard), London Podobnik (5-3, guard) and freshman Brooke Edge (5-5, guard).

“The cool thing about this group is that last year we went six or seven deep and sometimes eight, but we have three new kids to the program that are going to allow us to be even deeper and we should be able to go a legitimate nine or 10 deep which is very exciting,” Upton added. “The biggest difference is that we are going to be able to push harder on both ends of the court and foul trouble should not affect us a whole lot.

“Last year if we got in foul trouble it really limited the things we were going to be able to do. We are going to avoid that and push the tempo a lot more with this kind of depth.”

Another thing that Upton is excited about is the fact that her team should be able to mix things up both inside and outside.

“We have talked about what kind of defenses we are going to see, and it is going to be interesting if teams choose to play us and match-up or go zone,” Upton said.

“We are going to have a lot of ability to attack the rim or shoot from the outside.

“Our guard play is going to be very good and we have some height as well. We have some big, strong and physical kids all over the floor. Molly Herron, Haley Heitz, Brinley Steen and Nevaeh Cook is a very solid starting core and I like how Kailyn Wilson’s size helps us out as well.”

As usual the Cadets will play a tough schedule, however, there are even more big schools on the slate with the ability to play just West Virginia teams. Home-and-away contests are slated with the likes of John Marshall, Brooke, Weir and Oak Glen with Parkersburg South being met on the road.

“I feel confident this team will go out and compete every night and I am very excited about the season,” Upton said.

“It is another crazy year, but it’s nice to have this many kids back in this kind of season. Most of them understand everything that happens in our program and we are not having to start from square one.”

Upton is assisted by Rebekah Martin and R.J. Zitzelsberger.

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