There will be a lot of new faces on the Pleasant Valley girls' basketball team this up-coming season.
Gone from last year's team is head coach Jim Taylor, along with four of the team's top six scorers in Ali Yozwiak, Melissa Lunney, Shawnell Howard and Jackie Taylor.
Panther Valley native Nadia Gauronsky will now step in and take over a Pleasant Valley program that has been looking to get back to the success it had in the early part of the decade. Gauronsky coached the Lehighton junior varsity team the last two seasons and will now take her knowledge of the game to one of her former school's biggest rivals.
"I have always admired the ability and sportsmanship of the Pleasant Valley girls," said Gauronsky. "I still feel the same now that I am the head coach. I am really looking forward to working with these young ladies. If the girls and I work together, I am sure we can return the program to the success it had in the early 2000s."
Gauronsky will definitely have her hands full next season. Senior Jess Fields and junior Kasey Meckes are the only two returning starters from last year's district qualifying club. Meckes was second on the team in scoring last season with 7.09 points-per-game, but had ankle problems over the summer. Fields averaged four points in the first eight games before tearing her ACL.
"Our lone senior Jessica Fields in battling back from an ACL Tear," Gauronsky pointed out. "Our point guard Kasey Meckes is coming back off of ankle surgery, so we are hoping that they will remain healthy and continue to develop.
"Meghan Hardy has been doing a terrific job in the post, as well as Dalian Salmon. Christina McGill has brought a positive attitude and great hustle to practices and scrimmages too."
All three of those girls saw time last year. Salmon and Hardy averaged just over one point a game and got into 16 and 15 games respectively, while McGill played in just six contests.
Nicole Kregeloh, Kelly Harris and Amber Cheiffo also figure to see some time. Kregelog played in nine games toward the end of the season last year. Cheiffo was moved up and played in one game - the district playoff.
"We know that we will be successful if we are disciplined, continue to develop skills throughout the season and maintain a positive attitude," said Gauronsky. "We are working well as a cohesive unit and we are counting on everyone to step and take a role in our new system."
2009-10 may not be the easiest year for the Lady Bears, but it will be one of the most important. It will definitely be a year of learning for Gauronsky and her girls as they try to keep the program above .500 and moving in the right direction.
"My goals are to establish a program that is going to become a success for many years to come," said Gauronsky. "This is going to take time. It's going to have to start in the younger levels and continue to grow. I am hoping that we start to make these necessary steps next season.
"The girls are young and have lost their best player to graduation. There is a lot of rebuilding to be done this season, but I am hoping that these girls are going to be the ones that bring the program back to the success it had in the early 2000's."