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Worcester’s girls’ squad basketball savvy, coach says

By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | Nov 30, 2017
Courtesy of: Scot Dailey “We’re two deep in every position. We have a group of talented, hard-working players,” said Worcester Prep girls’ basketball Coach Scot Dailey. “This team has a chance to be really good I think.”

(Dec. 1, 2017) There may be a number of new players on the Worcester Prep girls’ basketball team this year, but as a whole, the group is basketball savvy.

“We have a higher basketball IQ than we’ve had in years past,” Prep Coach Scot Dailey said. “They know the game.”

In addition to playing basketball during the Worcester Prep season, some girls also compete in leagues outside of school.

Dailey’s roster consists of 14 players, four of them members of last year’s squad. The Lady Mallards started off the 2016-17 season 13-0 – a program record. They finished 16-3. The Prep team lost to Saints Peter and Paul, 38-36, in the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference championship game last year.

One big advantage the team has this year is height, Dailey said.

“We’re tall and long and have a good inside presence,” he said.

Not only are the starters skilled, but so are the players coming off the bench.

“We’re two deep in every position. We have a group of talented, hard-working players,” Dailey said. “It’s such a new and young team, so it’s taken a little longer to put it all together. This team has a chance to be really good I think.”

He is moving players around to see who meshes well together in order to create the ideal starting lineup, he said.

Juniors Gracie Gardner and sisters Hailey and Hannah Merritt, and sophomore Emily Copeland have been named captains.

Copeland earned All-ESIAC honors for her performance during the 2016-17 season. She led the team in rebounds with 102 and was third overall in scoring (95 points).

This is Gardner’s second year playing for Worcester. During the summer before her sophomore season, Gardner tore her ACL and meniscus and severely sprained her MCL and LCL in her knee while playing lacrosse. She missed the 2016-17 basketball season, but cheered on the players from the sideline as a team manager.

I’m really excited to get back on the court from my injury. Last year was rough watching my teammates, but I got to cheer them on,” Gardner said. “I also learned a lot too just from watching. I’m excited just to be out there and helping everyone out.”

At 6 feet 2 inches, Gardner is a big presence under the basket and Dailey is glad to have her back on the court.

“We literally grow every practice. The first day we were all pretty rusty,” Gardner said. “We’re making a lot of shots now and we’re pretty effective.

“We just have a lot more girls who play travel basketball who have more experience on the court. It’s a different aspect, but it’s definitely working,” she added. “We [graduated] so many people, but I believe we have a lot of basketball-oriented talent.”

As a team leader, Hailey Merritt hopes to encourage her teammates.

“It’s good to have peer encouragement instead of just a coach [talking to you],” said Merritt, a member of the team for two seasons. “I think it’s coming along really well. It was hard in the beginning because we haven’t all been here together for one practice and we’re just trying to get that gel and glue, but we’re working on it. There’s a lot of progress.”

The team graduated its leading scorer and point guard, Leigh Lingo, who was also named 2016-17 ESIAC Player of the Year. She led the team in steals and assists as well. This year, junior Chloe Ruddo and sophomore Carly Hoffman will split time at point guard.

“They both bring two different skill sets,” Dailey said. “We lost our point guard, our quarterback. It will be tough, but hopefully these two can do it by committee.”

Worcester kicked off the 2017-18 season Wednesday night in Berlin with a 49-21 victory over the Holly Grove Eagles.

Gardner led the team with 15 points and seven rebounds. Copeland added nine points and nine rebounds. Sophomore Maddy Shanahan chipped in with eight points and six rebounds.

“After some first-quarter jitters they played very well,” Dailey said.

The Prep team led 9-8 at the end of the first quarter. The Mallards pulled ahead in the second quarter and at halftime, the home team was on top, 24-11. After three quarters, Worcester had a 40-13 advantage.

“They played good defense and offense in the half court and passed the ball well,” Dailey said. “I was proud of the girls. They played hard and they played tenacious. We had too many turnovers so we’ve got to get a little better with ball security.”

Starting with Wednesday’s game, the Mallards will play seven matches in 13 days.

“With so many games early, there’s not a lot of time to correct the wrongs and put together a game plan for the next game,” Dailey said. “Right now, we’re working on fundamentals and offensive and defensive sets.”

The goal, Dailey said, is to improve each day and by the end of the season win a championship.

“Just because we have a new crop of players doesn’t mean it’s not our goal,” he said.

This is Dailey’s third season as head coach. He is assisted by Katie Oxenreider and Aaron Wyatt.

“They do a great job and bring a lot to the table,” Dailey said. “Aaron has a nice playing résumé. Adding him to the staff has been beneficial.”

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