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Palmerton girls welcome new coach

Jeremy Coleman is no stranger to the sport of basketball at Palmerton.

For over the past decade, Coleman served as an assistant coach with the Blue Bombers boys basketball program – as junior high and freshmen coach.

Now, after taking a season off, he’s ready to take on responsibilities on as the Lady Bombers’ first-year head coach.

“We’re all excited for this new season, and look to continue to grow and gel as a team throughout the season,” said Coleman, who is a Health and Physical Education teacher at the high school. “Practices have been going smoothly, and the energy in the gym is high.

“However, we’re ahead of schedule, and the girls are quick learners. We’re a team that wants to play with heart and passion, and we are looking forward to getting to game action.”

Whether Coleman is around the basketball talent each day in class, or simply passing in the hallways, he’s fully aware of the capabilities the Bombers possess.

The team is fresh off a year that stretched into the postseason after the Bombers finished with a 21-6 overall record (16-1 Colonial League), and were Colonial League and District 11 Class 3A runners-ups.

Gone, however, are a few links from last year’s postseason run in Bethie Morgan (all-league First Team, 1,000-point scorer), Kelsey Balliet, Emily Bollinger and Emilie Peterson.

While Coleman knows his squad has its work cut out for them, he pointed to a “next person up” concept that lies within his system.

“The loss of all-league player Bethie Morgan is a setback for this team, as she accounted for over 350 points of the team’s offense in 2022-2023,” Coleman said. “However, this team does have many younger players waiting in the wings to fill the void.”

Last season’s Bomber JV team went undefeated, and Coleman is counting on them having similar success at the next level.

“This team could struggle early as they adjust to their new coach, a new system, and a new style of play. Last year’s team had early season success, and should a rough start occur, mentally it could prove difficult to overcome for this team. But currently, the spirits are high at Palmerton, and these girls seem determined to make a late season run.”

Back to prevent any twists in the Bomber winning tradition are a handful of returnees who played key roles in last year’s success.

Hannah Barry (10.7 ppg last season, Sr., G), Sydney Frantz (7.9 ppg, Sr., G) and Megan Matsko (4.3 ppg, Sr., F) will return to their starting roles, while Hailey Andrews (Sr, F), Mikayla Pengelly (Jr., G) and Ella Baumgardt (Jr., G) will all vie for starting spots.

Morgan, Hannah Barry and Matsko played in all 27 games last year for the Bombers, while Frantz and Courtney Connell - who also returns - saw action in 24 games.

“These starters will be joined by some quality sophomores, juniors, and senior forward Hailey Andrews,” said Coleman about the Bombers’ strength this season. “We will have substantial depth at all positions, and will be able to rotate players in and out of the lineup with ease. The depth of this roster will allow this team to push each other in practice and they will just keep getting better throughout the year.

“This team has worked extremely hard in the offseason, and has high expectations for the postseason. We have a great combination of shooters, ball-handlers and quality role players which will make this team hard to defend.”

Those looking to make another postseason push by adding their talents to the mix include Hailey Barry (Soph., G), Courtney Connell (Soph., F), Cate Morgan (Soph., G) and Emma Rex (Soph., G). Grace Schneider (Soph., F) and Leah Rumfield (Soph., G) will also look to make a name for themselves.

While Coleman expects the Lady Bombers to match “the same success they have had over the past few seasons,” he has set several attainable goals for his squad to attain this season.

“It starts with the fact that we need to become better individually, and as a team on a daily basis,” he said.

Along with that, Coleman would love to see the rest fall in place for his program this season.

“We’d like to qualify for league playoffs, to win a league championship, to qualify for District 11 playoffs, to win a District 11 championship, and of course, to be a contender in PIAA 3A playoffs.”

Members of the 2023-24 Palmerton girls basketball team include, front row from left, Megan Matsko, Hannah Barry, Sydney Frantz, Hailey Andrews; middle row, Taylor Wasilewski, Leah Rumfield, Ella Baumgardt, Cate Morgan, Mikayla Pengelly; back row, assistant coach Jim Hay, assistant coach Travis Fink, Grace Schneider, Jalynn Herman, Courtney Connell, Emma Rex, Hailey Barry, manager Sarah Sabo and head coach Jeremy Coleman. LYNN SHUPP/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS