Most people have heard of the Fantastic Four superhero team from the recent movie franchise and the long standing comic book series.
Obviously the group of adventurers are fictional, but the premiss of the Fantastic Four is the way they are able to work together to defeat whatever threat they face. Each member brings a different skill to the table and when all their skills are combined they become a pretty daunting force.
The Tamaqua girls basketball team has its own version of the fantastic four this season, returning four starters from last year's 15-8 district qualifying team. Maria Streisel (13.0 ppg), Christine Streisel (9.81ppg, 36 3-pt FG), Amanda Solt (7.43 ppg) and Kori Kabilko (2.43 ppg) all return. After a slow start in 2011-12, Tamaqua turned it around winning 10 out of its last 13 games. The mid-season run brought the four together and has them poised for yet another successful season.
"These girls just love to play the game and they play well together," said head coach Joe Berezwick. "We're undersized once again, but we're quick and we play extremely hard. Last season is a lot like this season, we know we have competitors, but it's one of those deals where we don't know where we're going to be until we play a couple of games."
Leading the group of returnees is Maria Streisel. Streisel has been the point guard for the Raiders since mid-way through her freshman season and became more of a force in the scoring department last season. She will be counted on to not only lead the offense and distribute the ball, but score the rock as well.
"We go as Maria goes," said Berezwick. "Any good team starts with point guard play and she has been as consistent as it gets for us over the past three years. She really is our leader out there and we're looking forward to have her lead us out on the court once again."
Next up is Christine Streisel, who burst onto the scene with her long range shooting last season. Streisel hit 36 three-point field goals a season ago and although it's only preseason, Berezwick believes she is primed to rip the nylon early and often.
"Christine really came into her own last season when she had the opportunity to get more looks," said Berezwick. "She gave us a lot of big minutes in her sophomore season as our first reserve, but last year she showed how good of a shooter she is. I know it's early, but she's been really shooting it well and it looks like she's going to get off to a really good start."
Rounding out the fantastic four is inside player Amanda Solt and swingman Kori Kabilko. Solt does the dirty work inside for Tamaqua and has no problem taking on all comers in the paint even at 5-6, while Kabilko is a "jack of all trades" playing anywhere from shooting guard to small forward to power forward.
"Amanda and Kori were such complimentary pieces to Maria, Christine, and Kayla Hope last season," said Berezwick. "Amanda will battle night in and night out with anybody in the paint and Kori really surprised us last year. Kori was sort of an unknown for us last season coming from the JV ranks and she ended up really helping us. This season she looks great, you can tell that a year of varsity experience has elevated her confidence and she has really transformed into a good player, who can do everything pretty well."
Filling in that fifth spot for Tamaqua will be Page Demetriades, who spent most of her time at the JV level last season. Demetriades will start at the shooting guard spot and will be counted on to help Maria Streisel with some of the ball handling duties.
The Tamaqua girls have shown over the last few seasons that once the ball is tipped they're always a team to be reckoned with. Judging by the cast and crew of the Lady Raiders this season there's no reason to think differently.