Ford City girls basketball team in search of self-assurance
Though he knows Section 1-AA opponents might roll their eyes in skepticism, Ford City girls basketball coach Al Davis considers this a time for reconstruction.
“People don't ever say Ford City rebuilds, but in my time, yeah, I'd say this is a rebuilding year,” Davis said. “We have some good, young talent, and we've had a very good junior high program. It's just a matter of getting them to play at that next level together.”
Davis desires leadership above all else from the Sabers, who went 16-7 overall and lost to New Brighton in the WPIAL Class AA prelims. Who Ford City lost in terms of offensive and defensive productivity is notable. But the team's scarcity of self-assured starters is what Davis finds most concerning.
“Physically, they're all right, but emotionally, they need to grow up a little bit,” Davis said. “We have guards that can handle the ball. But we don't really have a true point guard, someone who will take charge. We're not bad at bringing the ball up, but we need that person with the confidence.”
Graduation stripped Ford City of its leading scorer (Heather Davis, 15.2 points per game), its assist leader (Maria Prazenica, 4.7 apg), and one of its best lockdown defenders, Paige Brocious.
Junior forward Allyson Cujas returns after averaging 11.1 points and 6.3 rebounds. She and sophomore swingman Christina Davis (5.5 points, 3.3 rebounds per game) are versatile inside-outside threats, but both mostly deferred to Heather Davis or Prazenica.
“It's different just to play now,” Christina Davis said. “Even the people that I've been playing with, it's different, because I'm used to playing with Heather and Maria and their pace. This year, we're going to try to go faster. … I'm not used to it at all.”
Junior guard Bethany Meyer, a two-year starter at Elderton, gives Ford City a backcourt boost. And freshman guards Mya Gladysiewski and Catelyn Cujas are two more newcomers expected to earn considerable playing time.
Al Davis expects as many as a dozen girls to work into the starting rotation at some point or another. Seniors Paige Klingensmith, Tiffany Kunkle and Krista Klukan, juniors Sarah Heddinger, Andrea Digregorio and Morgan Hollabaugh (another Elderton addition), and sophomores Ashton Callipare, Stephanie Digregorio and Karlee Smith all possess the potential to help Ford City make yet another postseason appearance.
“We're almost kind of a new team because we lost a lot of starters,” Klingensmith said. “We haven't really played with each other, a lot of us.”
If nothing else, the coach acknowledged, this season will position the fairly young Ford City lineup for a strong future.
“Even if we experience some losses, I think it's going to be an exciting season just for the fact that we'll see them growing up,” Al Davis said. “Now the sooner they grow up, the better for me as a coach. If we grow up soon enough, maybe we'll surprise some teams.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1303.