PV girls hope to end postseason dryspell
bob ford/times news Panther Valley girls basketball team members are, front row, from left, Abbey Whildin, Shannon Phillips, Mary Jane Thomas, Krista Paul and Olivia Markovich. Back row, Sam Zlock, Brittany Cunfer, Trayvonda Rice, Breanna Cullen and Madison Blasko.
Josh Wank is tired of short seasons.
The Panther Valley girls basketball coach doesn't want to be collecting uniforms the second week of February.
After a pair of five win seasons in his first two years at the Panthers' helm, Wank thinks this year's squad has postseason potential.
"We didn't graduate one person from last year's team and we added several talented freshmen," said Wank. "Our numbers are up and our talent level is up.
"We've set a goal of qualifying for the District 11 playoffs and everyone connected with the program is dedicated to making sure we achieve that goal. We've fallen short of reaching districts the last two seasons and I don't want that to happen again."
The Panthers' postseason dry spell extends well before Wank took over the program. The last time PV qualified for the District 11 playoffs was 2003.
The reason that Wank is confident that the streak will end this season is a deep and versatile rotation that could involve as many as 10 players.
"We have nine or 10 girls who could start for us on any given night," said Wank. "Deciding the starters and the rotation is a nice problem to have.
"This is definitely going to be the most versatile team I've ever coached. We could go with four or five different line-ups depending on matchups."
Wank said that the Panthers will use either a three or four guard lineup. Battling for playing time at the guard position will be sophomore Madison Blasko (4.8 ppg. last season), senior Mary Jane Thomas (5.4), senior Olivia Markovich, senior Breanna Cullen, and freshman Abbey Whildin.
Frontline players who will see playing time include junior Sam Zlock (5.7), junior Trayvonda Rice (4.3), senior Brittany Cunfer (3.8), senior Krista Paul and senior Shannon Phillips.
"We have a real nice mix of veteran players and young, athletic players," said Wank. "Our girls also worked hard in the offseason. I've seen a huge improvement in the skill level of our players."
Wank is counting on the improved skill set to make an impact at the offensive end of the court, an area where Panther Valley has struggled in recent years.
A year ago, the Panthers had no one on the team average even six points a game.
"My first two years here, we have been pretty solid defensively," said Wank. "We have only been allowing 40-some points a game. The problem has been that in both of those years our scoring average was in the 20s.
"We need to improve those numbers if we are going to achieve our goals."
Wank is confident that will happen.
"I like what I have seen so far," he said. "As long as we stay together and play together, we will be a tough out for anybody."
If that happens, Wank might just have to wait a little longer to collect the uniforms this season. Sometime in March would suit him just fine.