Northeast Times

Neighborhood squads are youthful this season

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

Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln

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.”

Frank­ford

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.”

George Wash­ing­ton

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.”

North­east

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.”

Samuel Fels

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.” ••

You can reach at myerkov@bsmphilly.com.

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