Palmerton girls hope to add to recent success
Members of the 2019-20 Palmerton girls’ basketball team include, back row from left, Dan Beck (head coach), Megan Green (manager), Emily Bollinger, Brianna Muffley, Kayla Nothstein, Kiersten Gursky, Brianna Moore, Hannah Smith, Brian Morgan (assistant coach), Madison Anthony (manager), Paul McCrone (assistant coach); middle, Emily Recker, Hollis Guedes, Kayla Cincilla, Casi Papay, Madison Molchran ; front, Emilie Peterson, Raegan Nemeth, Elizabeth Morgan and Kelsey Balliet. PHOTO COURTESY LYNN SHUPP.
Most people wouldn’t think that a record of 11-14 represents a successful basketball campaign.
But for the Palmerton girls basketball team, under then-first-year head coach Dan Beck, there were plenty of positives to be found in last season’s accomplishments.
The Bombers had an 8-8 record in Colonial League play to qualify for districts and lengthen their hopes to continue playing.
Beck and his team took full advantage of that opportunity, working their way through the district brackets, all the way to the finals before eventually falling to Notre Dame of Green Pond.
Despite the loss, the Bombers advanced to the PIAA Class 2A State playoffs as the District 11 second place team. The strong postseason finish raised a lot of eyebrows as the Bombers served notice that they could be a potential contender for seasons to come.
Those opportunities have now arrived as Beck and company hope to make their presence felt.
One of Palmerton’s leading scorers from that team, and returning senior, Kayla Cincilla addressed the pressures that could challenge teams in that scenario.
“We just take it as that was last year,” Cincilla said. “We keep it in our heads that even though we made it that far, we still have to keep moving forward. We can’t take last season’s accomplishments too much to our heads and get cocky.
“We just want to keep running with it and kind of use it as a pusher to go harder in each practice and every game.”
Sophomore Brianna Moore also returns this season and said, “I think that coming off going to states last year really gave us momentum, coming into this season. We definitely have a lot of improvements to make, but we have a really good group of girls here that can be successful.”
Baylee Guedes, who contributed points and was a strong presence on the boards, was the only player on last year’s team lost to graduation.
“Our personnel is looking very good,” Beck said. “We have a lot of starters back from last year. We lost Baylee (Guedes), but her sister Hollis should be able to step in and do the things that she did for us.
“We have Reagan Nemeth and Brianna Moore back again and Kayla Cincilla and then we have a freshman that will be getting a lot of time at point guard in Beth Morgan.”
This year’s squad should be able to dictate the tempo of games and according to Beck, they would love to run the entire 32 minutes.
“I think the girls’ approach to the offense will be fast,” Beck said. “We’ll be aggressive and we’re going to push the ball up and down the court. We’re looking forward to that. Ideally, I don’t want to have to set up an offense.”
The Bomber roster has a healthy mix of strong players at each position, a luxury that allows Beck more options in terms of strategy.
“With a lot of experience returning, we feel we can compete in every game we play,” Beck said. “We have weaknesses and areas we want to work on, like some confidence and decision making on the court. But we want to be competitive in every game and we have set a lot of goals for ourselves this season.”
With the season opener against Lehighton just days away, the Bombers seem ready for the challenges that await.
“We have a lot of goals for this season and I think they’re achievable,” Beck said. “I really like what we’ve seen so far.”