YORK — York Comprehensive High School head girls’ basketball coach Paula Blackwell is beginning the 2013-14 season with a youth movement she feels will bolster the program.
“We moved up five ninth-graders to blend with the returning players,” said Blackwell. “We’re looking for the players to mesh together. It’ll be sort of like on-the-job training for the ninth-graders.”
While the new players will experience learning curves, Blackwell said there’s a positive side to the youth movement. “They are used to winning,” she said. “It brings that element to the program.”
Blackwell is developing player rotations during preseason scrimmages. “We’re developing a rotation of 10 to 11 players,” she said. “You can’t make it with four to six players at the 4A level.”
She has seen improvement in preseason scrimmages, including two wins in last Thursday’s scrimmages. “We have more athleticism,” she said.
Blackwell said the Lady Cougars will build the offense around 6-foot-1 all-region post player Carrie Lee Lancaster, who was among the top scorers and rebounders in the upstate last season.
“We have some outside shooters who can take the pressure off Carrie Lee and she can kick it back out,” said Blackwell. “Ninth-grader Heather Pumphrey is helping in the post.”
Lancaster said a key for the Lady Cougars when regular-season play begins is to step it up on defense, whether it’s man-to-man or zone.
Lancaster plays with confidence and said she feels good about her game in the early stages of the season.
“We are making progress and building chemistry,” said Lancaster, a varsity player since eighth grade. “We are having fun, which relaxes me on the court.”
Senior playmaking guard Hannah Cassell, a varsity participant since the end of her sophomore year, has been successful from three-point range in preseason scrimmages.
“I’ve been working to improve my shooting,” she said. “I am confident shooting the three-pointer.”
Cassell said the YCHS girls have made progress since the team’s first scrimmage. “We’ve been working on ball movement, making good passes and movement without the ball,” she said.
The Lady Cougars open regular-season play Dec. 3 at Indian Land, with the girls game slated for a 6 p.m. start, followed by the varsity boys game at 7:30 p.m.
The YCHS teams travel to Chester Dec. 6, where the starting times will be 6:30 p.m. for the girls and 8 p.m. for the boys.