2017-18 High School Girls Basketball Preview: Solid Start

Gloversville's Harmony Philo puts up a 3-point shot against Scotia-Glenville during a Foothills Council game on Thursday at Gloversville High School. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

There have been some surprises in the early-season games of the 2017-18 girls basketball season.

Two teams — Mayfield and Amsterdam — have opened the season strong, winning all three of their games, while five teams — Gloversville, Johnstown, Broadalbin-Perth, Galway and Wells — are still looking for their first victories.

With the Foothills Council moving away from North-South division play to a single 10-team league, each team will be playing an 18-game league schedule with no crossovers or league championship games.

Foothills Council

The Gloversville Lady Dragons and Amsterdam Lady Rams made runs deep into the Section II Class A postseason tournament.

Amsterdam's Giuliana Pritchard (23) defends against Broadalbin-Perth's Adrienne Morreale (12) as she looks to pass the ball during a Foothills Council game at Amsterdam High School on Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)

Gloversville reached the final four before falling to eventual Class A champion Averill Park, which had to defeat a scrappy Lady Rams squad in the championship game.

The Lady Dragons return all their starters and have depth on their bench.

Junior Harmony Philo (20.95 ppg, 6 rpg, 4.5 apg), returns to lead Gloversville. Philo earned Foothills Council first team all-star status and was selected to the Section II Class A all-star team and was selected to the seventh team all-state last season and after the first three games this season is 174 points shy of becoming the first Lady Dragon to reach the 1,000-point milestone.

Despite the 0-3 start to the season, Gloversville is looking to make another postseason run with veterans Kerri Hauser, Alex Benfatti, Gabby Langley, Gabrielle Brown, Jasmine Gonzalez, all seniors, along with junior Kendra Lavery, sophomores Madde Jones and Chloe Jones and newcomers Sheyenne Beach, Daley Jo Christman and Alecea Jones.

Gloversville dropped its season-opener to Amsterdam 65-59 and fell to Glens Falls 58-47.

“These three games [Amsterdam, Glens Falls and Scotia-Glenville] were definitely challenging teams right off the bat,” Gloversville coach Molly D’Arcy said. “The things we had hoped to achieved by now, we haven’t gotten there but we are resolved to work together and figure out what it is we have to work on to come out on top.”

Amsterdam lost the majority of its scoring punch with the graduation of all-time leading scorer Nina Fedullo, who finished with 1,500 career points after netting 441 in her senior season. Also graduating were Maria Lomanto (177 points, 40 3-pointers), Brady Santiago (172 points, 33 3-pointers) and Grace Catena (141 points).

However, the Lady Rams return five players with experience including five-year varsity players Giuliana Pritchard (292 points), Lucia Liverio (124 assists), Taylor Flint, Gianna DeRose and Elena Fedullo.

Pritchard also is approaching the 1,000-point milestone.

“Seniors accounted for close to 1,000 points last year along with 1 3s made,” Amsterdam coach Eric Duemler said. “This year’s team will be different on both the offensive and defensive ends. I am looking forward to coaching this group of players and our goal, as it always is, will be to win the Foothills Championship and compete for a Section II Class A title.”

The Johnstown Lady Bills are looking for the right combination with a young squad this year.

Graduation claimed veterans Claire Guzielek (277 points, 33 3-pointers), leading rebounder Chelsea Cirillo, Jordan Rose and Mallory Baldwin.

“We have an eighth-grader, five freshmen, a sophomore and two seniors,” Johnstown coach Tim Derwin said. “The girls are working hard and are excited. We should compete will in the Foothills.”

Jess VanNostrand (105 points) returns for her senior season along with 5-10 senior Allison Morey. They are joined by freshman Anna Lee (155 points, 22 3-pointers), Abby VandeWalker, Kanako Sasaki, and newcomers Meghan Mraz, Sarah Pratt, Amber Tesi and Jaden Wilson.

Tucker Gifford takes over the coaching duties for the Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots along with coaching the B-P boys squad.

Gifford will have a solid group of returning players from last years squad including Lola DiCaterino, Sara Kline, Ganiha Tirado, Nyah Thompson, Adrienne Morreale and Kacie Corcuera.

The Lady Patriots add a talented group of newcomers including senior Ashley Ostrander, juniors Kylie Stigberg, Allison McDonald, freshman Caroline Iannotti and eighth-graders Makenzie Smith and Emma Goebel.

“Our path to becoming the best team we can be doesn’t yet have a destination, it is a daily journey of working hard, learning how to compete and growing as a team, Gifford said. “During this process, we will change the culture and expectations of the BP girls basketball program.”

Western Athletic Conference

The Mayfield Lady Panthers have opened the season on a 3-0 run, outscoring their opponents 150-73.

The Lady Panthers return the complete roster from last year’s squad, including three starters and six players who saw lots of playing time off the bench last year.

Returning starters Sydney Sheldon (18.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.9 apg and 5.3 steals per game), Camryn Meca (7.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg, and 1.9 spg and Taryn LaFontaine (2.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg) return to lead the squad.

Also returning for Mayfield are seniors Alis Hart, Sydney Benton, Kaylee Hampton and Lauryn Pianelli, junior Katie LaGrange and sophomore Lindsey Hampton.

“The team is off to a great start and is working extremely hard,” Mayfield coach Brian Moore said. “Their work ethic and team chemistry is going to be a huge asset to us going forward this year as the Lady Panthers look to contend for another WAC title after winning their first in school history in 2015-16.”

After dropping its first two games of the season to Tamarac and West Canada Valley, Fonda-Fultonville has rebounded for back-to-back victories over Waterville and Galway.

With the graduation of Julianna taylor, who finished her career at Fonda-Fultonville with 1,209 points and averaging 20.8 points per game last season, the Lady Braves are regrouping and looking for the right combination.

“This year the team is very young,” Fonda-Fultonville coach Flip Boshart said. “We have only one senior and two eighth graders. We are looking to be competitive at the top of the WAC and grow as a team. We have many players who will be asked to step up into new roles, but they are ready for the challenge. We are taller than last season and we hope to use our size to our advantage. I am excited to see the development of each player throughout the season.”

Returning senior Ryleigh Hesch is joined by second team WAC all-star junior Jillian Wilder (4.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg), Alyssa Duval (4.8 ppg), Kaleigh Smith (5.0 ppg) and sophomore Abby Lombardoni (10.9 ppg).

After taking over as head coach midway through last season, Patti Kallen returns to the bench for Northville this season.

The Lady Falcons finished the season strong last year, knocking off defending Section II Class D champ Fort Edward before losing to Heatly in the second round of sectional play.

Kallen has a talented group of players including all five starters from last year including Hannah Coupas (12.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 1.8 blocks per game), Brianna Bace (8 ppg), Brytney Moore, Karlie Foster and Breanna Strouse along with veterans Bethany Varriale and Jessica Miller.

They are joined by newcomers Emily Ovitt, Morgan Mackey and Kerrigan Groff.

“We are looking to continue the progress we made at the end of last season after posting a 4-2 record in February,” Kallen said. “The core players of the team are back with three solid players moving up from last year’s JV team. We are hoping to finish higher in the league and to make a deeper run in sectionals.”

The Galway Golden Eagles will be rebuilding this season following the graduation of a large group of talented players.

Galway will be led by seniors Carlee Horstmann and Grace Montague. They are joined by juniors Samantha Grant, Lily Gullett and Jessica Pakatar, sophomore Rachel Wnuk, freshmen Morgan Drouin and Isabella Mancini and eighth-grader Julie Reedy.

“With the graduation and loss of so many players, our younger players will be forced to step up and play some big roles,” Galway coach Deb Wilday said. “Every game will be a learning experience and we will get better every time we step on the court. I am proud of this young group; they have a bright future.”

The Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville Lady Wolves lost their entire starting lineup to gradation but first-year coach Benjamin Libertore has guided a young group to a 3-3 record so far this season.

Returning players Madison Richardson and Fontana LaCoppola will provide the leadership on the squad that includes varsity newcomers Rebecca Trumble, Shian Harmon, Emma Hart, Madison Dunbar and Ashlee Shelmandine.

“We are a young team but are poised to make some noise,” Liberatore said.

Canajoharie has opened its season with victories over Sharon Springs and Dolgeville before dropping three straight to Greenwich, Duanesburg and Mekeel Christian.

Fort Plain opted not to field a varsity girls squad this season.


Don Beach takes over as the head coach of a Wells Lady Indians squad that has no seniors listed on its roster.

Beach will look to returning veterans Sierra Mauro, Jonni Stuart, Genevieve Brown, Ruth Johnson and Maygen Robinson to guide newcomers Jocelyn Scribner, Madeline Braunius, Sara Plum and Keara O’Rourke through the season.

“We have a young team with no seniors,” Beach said. “We wound know until halfway through the season how we are until we gain some experience.”

Center State Conference

With a talented group of sophomores coming up in the Dolgeville program, first-year coach Jennifer Morse is excited to see what this group of players can accomplish.

Sophomores Hannah Spofford, Hannah Stack and Gabby Kenyon join the varsity Blue Devils this season along with seniors Isabella Williams Samantha Frasier, Lesa Rockwell and Krisslyn Riggs, juniors Sandra Gonyea, Rachael Lamphere and Kaitlyn LaGrange and sophomore Ryanne Williams..

“I am excited to see how well the team develops this season with the addition of Spofford, Stack and Kenyon,” Morse said. “we are really working on the future of the program and becoming competitive within the league.”