WELLSVILLE -The Tigers are taking the necessary steps to achieve success.
The Wellsville girls basketball team took part in all eight sessions of the 2012 Wellsville Girls Basketball Boosters Bi-State Summer League held last month at the high school gym. The league also featured Beaver Local, East Liverpool, Oak Glen, Toronto and Weir.
The Tigers, Beavers, Potters, Golden Bears and Red Knights all participated in the league last season. This year, the Red Riders replaced Southern Local.
Wellsville’s Amanda Coles brings the ball up the court during a summer league game June 26 against Weir at Wellsville. (Photo by Aaron Petchal)
The league began June 4, and it came to an end June 27th.
"Well talking to all of the coaches, the league is doing well," Wellsville head coach Ed Swogger said. "Everybody is pleased at the way it operates, and at how smooth as it is running. Of course tonight, we didn't have enough girls, but that happens and that is part of the league when we set this up that if somebody didn't have enough players we would go somebody from another team to fill in. Unfortunately, we had to do that tonight, but it was fortunate for the Liverpool girls who got to play some extra time. It's just getting the girls to play. That is the goal of this league, and it seems to be working well."
Wellsville was hard hit by graduation as the Tigers lost several key players from last year's team. No doubt the biggest loss is standout Mikyla Tipton, who graduated as the program's all-time leading scorer.
Summertime is an important part of the year for all players on all teams in all sports. Players improve by working hard in the offseason, and the Wellsville Summer league helps the girls to improve their skills.
"Well, I think that is one of the most important parts of your season is the offseason," Swogger said. "Realistically, there shouldn't be an offseason if you're truly a basketball player, or a volleyball player or whatever the sport may be. It is something you have to work on all the time in some aspect. This just adds to that individual effort you have to put in in the summer. It gives you more of that team feel."
With the loss of Tipton and other key players from the program, the Tigers will have to rely on a lot of underclassmen to step up and help carry the load. Seniors Amanda Coles and Maleya Fultz are expected to play key roles in the upcoming season as well as junior Shartece Taylor. Fultz missed a good bit of time last season with a back injury. For the most part, however, nothing is set in stone.
"No, we don't have anything set right now," Swogger said. "Tonight, we had two sophomores, a junior and a senior here. It's a mix-match group right now. We have got some freshmen here off and on. I don't have anything set. Nothing."
With so many underclassmen and new faces on the court, things have been a little rough for the Tigers this summer.
"We still have a long way to go," Swogger said. "We still have got a long way to go, but at least we are out here giving an effort right now. That's about all you can ask in the summer. That is where you get better is in the summer."
Beaver Local, East Liverpool and Toronto are mainstays on Wellsville's schedule. With the three teams taking part in the league, the Tigers are able to see some of the things those teams like do on the court as well as getting the opportunity to see who the are the top players on each team.
"I look for mainly individual stuff," Swogger said. "There is not really a whole lot of coaching going on right now per say with offenses and defenses, presses, press breaks, none of that is going on. It is just the girls playing, so really I'm just looking at individuals, who stands out on which teams. That is basically what I am looking for, because things can change between now and the winter. I may change my whole philosophy if I dig into enough books. Who knows, but no, I'm just looking for individual talents right now."
Wellsville is not the only team to be hard hit by graduation. East Liverpool lost its three top players in Mallory Waggle, Whittni Davidson and Kelsie Wymer. Beaver Local graduated seven seniors, and Oak Glen lost standout point guard Payden Eckleberry as well as post player Amy Webster.
There are going to be plenty of new faces on the court this upcoming season.
"Yeah, everybody is going to have a lot of new faces including the league, the ITCL," Swogger said. "Lowellville lost their big guns. Western Reserve lost a couple, so I think we are still going to be competitive with everybody even though we have lost ours and they have lost theirs. I think we are still going to be right in the hunt."