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Expect highs, lows for young Lady Raiders

Published December 02. 2013 05:00PM

In high school athletics a one-year difference can completely change a team's personnel.

Last year's 16-7 Tamaqua girls basketball team was full of proven talent and upper classmen.

However, the 2013 Tamaqua's girl's varsity basketball team is very youthful with not much experience.

"These kids are going to be thrown into the fire, but there is no better way to learn than getting the immediate experience," said Tamaqua head coach Joe Berezwick. "I'm extremely thankful at the amount of talent that comes through this program and the area.

"This year we just have a very young and inexperienced group of girls."

This team has only one senior, Jaclin Valasek.

Coach Berezwick said of Valasek, "She's been in our program since junior high. She has been a big part of our success we've had the last couple of years."

Valasek was the team's first player coming off of the bench last season.

The coach mentioned that she displayed toughness as she battled injury during the season, while still giving the team valuable minutes.

Jaclin will be sharing starting minutes with a group of five other juniors that include Paige Demetriades, Vanessa Solt, Brianna Wittig, Emily Pratka, and Bailey Hartung.

Two more girls to keep an eye out for on the varsity squad are Alexis Baddick and Allison Pedersen.

Berezwick has been coaching long enough to know that it's tough to win with a young team. One of his primary goals for this group of girls is for them to develop their own identity.

The Tamaqua coach wants his group of girls to play with more tenacity.

"They're a really nice group of kids, so nice that we're trying to get them to have more of a tough edge on the court," said Berezwick. "This team's biggest challenge is the mental toughness due to lack of experience. If you don't grow up quick, you're going to learn the hard way in this league."

The youth of Tamaqua forced Berezwick to slow things down this offseason.

"We're a little slower in practices because there is much more teaching involved with all of the younger girls," he said.

If this squad can stay around the .500 mark, it would be a great accomplishment.

"We have a blank slate this year. Our roster has a bunch of 'unknowns' if you will," said Berezwick.

It might take a little longer for five juniors that will see the floor to come together, but the Tamaqua coach believes it will come with time.

"If the team chemistry comes together and we start knocking down some shots, we will do pretty well," he said. "I think we're pretty solid defensively, but we have trouble scoring on the other side of the ball."

It's safe to say that the Blue Raiders will likely be inconsistent this year.

"Some people consider this a rebuilding year." the coach added. "Next year we will be able to dive into things quicker with this squad having a year under their belt. The success of this team will come down to how fast this young team will mature."

The Blue Raiders could potentially be going into next season with a starting five of all seniors.

The junior varsity team is a 12 deep roster full of girls who could also become pleasantly surprising players within the next two seasons.

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