The Philadelphia Public League is budding with new players and coaches this girls basketball season. George Washington and Samuel Fels have named new skippers, and almost all five teams have a rookie roster.
So how will this overall rebuilding year pan out for your favorite basketball teams? Here’s a look at the Railsplitters, Pioneers, Eagles, Vikings and Panthers.
Philadelphia Public League
Last year: 7-7 overall
Abraham Lincoln has the talent to become major contenders in the Philadelphia Public League this season.
Senior point guard Sharika Jones will guide the Railsplitters. Fellow seniors Amber and Ashlei Austin — twin sisters — will work the front court.
Junior center Brieanna Johnson and sophomore guard Tyshell Jessie will round out Lincoln’s starting lineup.
“It’s going to be a competitive year, especially on the defensive end,” said head coach Mike Turchi. “Our expectations are to make the playoffs and try to progress each game. We need to work together.”
Last year: 13-5 overall
After losing some key players to graduation last year, the Frankford High School basketball team is filling in the blanks. Even if they’re lacking in size and experience, the hope is that they’ll compensate with heart and defense.
“I’m playing more girls this year, so we’ll play more man-to-man,” explained Frankford boss Dave Cubular. “We can rebound well and we’re defensively strong. They play strong defense, and that will be key.”
Junior Tashea Holiday, a 5-foot-3 speedster, will guide the Pioneers as point guard this season. Forward Nyeasha Pearson and wing Brittany Fuller are also expected to have an impact.
“We’re OK. We’re taking it game by game,” said Cubular. “I think we’ll be competitive. I think we can play with most teams.”
Last year: 3-10 overall
It looks like the George Washington High School girls basketball team will experience a rebuilding year. The Eagles have only four returning players; the other dozen girls on the roster have never played organized basketball.
“It’s a work in progress,” said newly appointed head coach Kathy Paul, who also coaches field hockey and softball at Washington high. “We’re working on fundamentals and teamwork. I have two returning four-year players, so we’ll build around them.”
Seniors Montana Fritz, a forward and center, and point guard Amber Hall are the leaders of this year’s squad. The Eagles also have a returning three-year player in forward Selena Powers. Guard Amanda Rivera will also provide some experience to the otherwise youthful squad.
Newcomers include forward Amber Dalhquist and freshman point guard Unique Right.
“They show up to practice every day and work hard,” said Paul. “I only see improvement. They’re getting better every day.”
Last year: 11-4 overall
Coming off a very successful season last year that included a run deep into the playoffs, the Northeast High School basketball squad is now back to basics.
ldquo;We’re really young,” said assistant coach Rich Kirk, who has been coaching women’s basketball for over 40 years, including 10 at Northeast High. “We have no seniors, two juniors and a lot of sophomores.”
Sophomore Taylour Jones will be at point guard this season. Fellow guards include sophomore Lauren Willis and Briyah Hill. Jackie Hagen will handle center responsibilities.
Lovely Accilus and Tiona Brinkley are also expected to play pivotal roles for the Vikings this season.
“So far, the team looks good,” said Kirk. “They’re young, but very hard-working.”
Last year: 3-8 overall
The Panthers’ basketball team has a new coach this season, although most students at Samuel Fels High School already know George Ewerth.
He is the varsity soccer coach and former swimming boss (Samuel Fels ended its swimming program this year), and he also teaches at the Langdon Street school.
Now he’s bringing his mentoring skills to the hardwood.
“This is my first year coaching basketball, so it’s a learning progress,” he said, “but I’m having a good time with it.
“We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores who are learning the fundamentals of the game,” he continued. “We have a lot of kids who never played organized basketball before.”
Kristina and Cynthia Miller — senior guards and twin sisters — will provide some leadership for the youthful Panthers. Senior center Kyliah Richardson is also expected to be a significant contributor.
Dannah Cross and freshmen Nariah Williams and Sierrah NcClure will round out Samuel Fels’ lineup.
“We’re working to rebuild the program here at Fels,” said Ewerth. “There’s a high interest — a lot of players want to be here. The kids are enthusiastic. I’m excited.” ••