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Steadier play could lift Freeport girls

| Monday, Nov. 29, 2010

After finishing in next-to-last place in Section 1-AA last season, the Freeport girls basketball team is looking to make some strides this season.

The Yellowjackets finished 3-9 in section play, 4-15 overall.

Five starters return from last year. Erica Carnahan graduated, but five other players saw starting time at one point or another.

In fact, coach Bill Burkart welcomes back a pair of four-year starters in Anna Christy and Nicolette Blake, who will swing between the guard and forward positions.

Third-year starters Talylor Schreckengost and Jessica McFadden will return, along with second-year starter Jessica Aulicino.

To climb the section ladder, Freeport is looking for consistency. The Yellowjackets lost seven games by seven points or fewer, so the thinking is that a little steadiness could go a long way.

"Last year, I was disappointed. I though we had a shot at the playoffs," Burkart said. "We lost so many close game that I'm hoping we can turn some things around. There were times last year we looked great, other times it looked like we didn't practice."

Looking to supplement the starters are seniors Samantha Angley, Jen Hawk and Hope Thompson, along with junior Lynsey Gugino.

With some section schools playing with short rosters, it could work to Freeport's advantage.

"Our program's numbers are good," Burkart said. "But it's a hard season. The more depth you have, the better your chances."

Freeport will get the campaign under way Dec. 10 at the Slippery Rock Tip-off tournament against Neshannock. A win in that game could pit the Yellowjackets against the host Rockets, a Class AAA team.

That will be followed by a Dec. 14 game at Kittanning, a team that played well in Class AAA last season.

"We certainly don't open up with an easy schedule," Burkart said. "The girls have to understand, we could go 0-3, but the exhibition games are to get ready for the section."

The Yellowjackets will finally hit the home court for the section opener Dec. 16 against Apollo-Ridge. Burkart again will be assisted by Cindy Lambing.

Burkart said Deer Lakes and Ford City are the teams to beat in the section. If all goes well, the Yellowjackets could contend for their first section title since 1990.

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