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No. Lehigh girls looking to share the wealth

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    Northern Lehigh girls basketball team members are, kneeling, from left, Kaylee Wilk, Morgan Hoffner, Jannetza Guzman, Danielle Dougherty, Sophia Lear and Cadence Peters. Standing, assistant coach Jason Reinhard, Emma Niebell, Raven Klimek, Lauren Hoffman, assistant coach Danielle Hoffman and head coach Ken Shankweiler. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

Published December 02. 2019 09:13PM

A year ago, it was evident that the Northern Lehigh girls’ basketball team had a “go-to” player.

This year, head coach Ken Shankweiler doesn’t want to rely on just one of his Bulldogs to get the job done. Instead, the seasoned mentor is looking for his Bulldogs to share the wealth.

“With losing Jada Saeger and her 24 points a game, we will need to rely on a number of girls to contribute on offense,” Shankweiler said.

Northern Lehigh will look to replace Saeger, a First Team All-Colonial League All-Star who was lost to graduation.

Saeger led the Times News coverage area last season with 24.09 points per game and a TN-area-high 530 total points. In late December, Saeger surpassed the 1,000-point plateau in her career.

Saeger scored double figures in all 22 of the Bulldogs’ games and finished as the team’s leading scorer.

Shankweiler is looking for the present pack of Bulldogs to work together to put those points up on the scoreboard.

“Emma Niebell was our second-leading scorer last year and has continued to improve in the offseason,” Shankweiler said. “Our team captains, Lauren Hoffman and Maddie Seier, should give us some inside scoring and leadership.”

While Saeger accounted for 56 percent of the team’s points (530 of the team’s 949), Niebell was the next best with a points per game average of 7.55. Niebell played in all 22 games and finished with 166 points.

Hoffman averaged 5.32 ppg. while Seier averaged 3.81, and Shankweiler is hoping those totals increase significantly this season.

Not only is scoring a concern for the Bulldogs, so is a lack of height. Sophomore center Raven Klimek (5-8) also returns.

Hoffman and Niebell are both 5-foot, 7-inches, and are also expected to defend the basket. Seier, who stands 5-foot, 6-inches, will also chip in on defense.

To make up for the lack of height, the Bulldogs, who were 8-14 a year ago, will try and utilize their speed on the perimeter. Sophomores Sophia Lear and Morgan Hoffner, along with freshman Kaylee Wilk, will play a key role at the guard position.

While the concerns outweigh the strengths right now, Shankweiler knows the Bulldogs are heading in the right direction, something that started with offseason workouts and continued into the preseason.

“We’ve had a good offseason, and the girls have worked hard to improve,” Shankweiler said. “Practices have been upbeat and positive, and the coaches’ goals for our team are as always, to improve every day.”

Freshmen Jannetza Guzman (guard), Danielle Dougherty (forward) and TJ Cadence Peters (center) round out the roster.

An increase in numbers also has Shankweiler optimistic about the future of the program.

“On a bright side, our numbers are up this year,” Shankweiler said. “We will be competing on the JV level for the first time in a couple of years.”

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