Lot of New Faces for Upton, Linsly Girls
By JOSH STROPE
There is always turnover in high school sports. Then there is Linsly.
The Cadets welcome back two players from last year’s team so you would have to forgive Linsly girls’ basketball coach Rebecca Upton if she it would have taken a little longer to learn some names.
Before you start thinking this will nothing more than a rebuilding year, you might want to think twice. There might be some new faces, but there is still plenty of talent and potential.
“We know we don’t have to be playing our best basketball right now, we know we are going to take some lumps and there will be bumps in the road, but there is a lot of potential on this team and it is going to come down to how long until they all come together,” Upton said.
Gone are two of the best players in school history in Vivian Allison (last season’s All-Valley Small School captain) and Jazzie Orth — a combined 32 points a game.
Looking to fill that void are two seniors — the lone two players returning from last season — in Mary Bedway and Mia Cascio.
Bedway averaged 7.8 points per game and seven rebounds. She is 6-foot-2 and caused a lot of problems for anyone that came around the rim.
“Mary makes a big difference,” Upton said. “Her being 6-2 allows us to put more pressure on the wings and on help side. She is laterally tall and a outside perimeter defender, as well.
“These girls are growing into leaders and that will come along more and more as the season goes. They are going to run the show. Last year, Mary and Mia were secondary leaders behind Viv and Jazz and now they will be the primary leaders. They have been very instrumental in helping the new girls and the freshmen feel apart of this and that this is their team, too.”
They won’t be the only players with experience, though.
Joining this squad are three juniors that played last season at Bishop Donahue in Josie Purpura (guard), Maddie Menendez (guard) and Sarah Heller (small forward).
“They are all working hard and I know it can’t be easy for them to adjust to a new school, new coach, new everything,” Upton said. “But they have really come in with a good attitude. They came to all our summer stuff and have been a welcome addition to our team and school.”
The Cadets will have a slew of freshmen that are new to the system and will look to grow as the years go on. But two have stood out and will play a lot right away.
In fact, they will both be starting.
Charlie Allison, Vivian’s younger sister, is one that Upton is very excited about.
“She is going to have a pretty big impact,” she said. “She is a guard/forward and can play a lot of different places for us. She is 5-11 and still growing. She is very similar to her sister, but is more of an outside shooter. She can still attack the rim and is very good defensively.”
Starting at point guard will be 5-9 Molly Heron.
“I knew she was a basketball player, but when I found out she was a natural point guard, that was a nice discovery,” Upton said. “She is doing really well and I expect big things from her.”
Other freshmen looking to see playing time are guards Lourdes Giovengo and Emma Robinson, as well as Korah Anderson (6-0, post), who Upton sees as a project that has the potential to grow into Bedway’s spot in the future.
Sophomores Hunter Smith (guard/forward) and Arella Kluvitse are joined by senior first-year player in Laura Kessler-Gomez.
Last season, the Cadets lost in the OVAC Class 3A finals. This season, they have dropped down to 2A and despite the new faces, the goals remain the same.
“It is already something we have talked about,” Upton said. “It is definitely our February goal. We are in a new class with some new opponents, but have the same goal.
“I am a huge believer in defense. We want to hold teams under 40 points and all we have to do is score 41. If we bring our defensive game every night, we know we can win any game. We are going to take it one game at a time and that starts now with our opener against Wheeling Central.”
Upton is assisted by Rebecca Martin.