Apollo-Ridge girls basketball face big void to fill
The Apollo-Ridge girls basketball team has a big void to fill this season.
Four-year letter-winner Lexi Orlowski has graduated, taking with her an 18-point-per-game average.
Orlowski accounted for about 43 percent of the team's scoring last season. Even though four experienced players return, third-year coach Desiree Syster is looking for someone to step up during preseason camp.
“We're working on filling Lexi's offensive gap,” Syster said. “In a lot of games, it was Lexi, Lexi, Lexi. So we're looking at ways to fill that gap. I think that's our biggest hurdle right now.”
The Vikings finished 6-8 in Section 1-AA, a game out of the playoffs. Apollo-Ridge finished 8-14 overall.
Returning are senior guard Sarah Bonelli, junior forward Ashley Emminger, and sophomore guards Claire Bowman and Julia DeMeno.
Several players are in contention for the fifth starting spot, including freshman Megan Bonelli, Sarah's younger sister. Syster is considering alternating a fifth starter depending on the opposition.
“We have, more or less, a starting lineup for speed and a starting lineup for size,” Syster said.
Syster also is happy with player turnout. Apollo-Ridge could field a junior varsity team, which would enable freshmen to get experience.
“Our numbers are still low, but there's tons of experience we can get the players,” Syster said.
The Vikings' coach believes Burrell and Deer Lakes are the top teams in the section, with West Shamokin possibly stronger with the addition of players from the former Elderton High School, a team that made the WPIAL playoffs the past two seasons.
Kristen Shoe again will serve as an assistant coach.
The Vikings will get thrown into tough competition right away, starting the season against Deer Lakes in Springdale's Dynamo Tip-off Tournament. The game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Dec. 7.
Apollo-Ridge opens section play Dec. 13 against Leechburg.
George Guido is a freelance writer.