September 23, 2018
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  • Jess Giblin attacked on the baseline during a recent game against South River.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    Jess Giblin attacked on the baseline during a recent game against South River.

Youth Is No Excuse For SP Girls Hoops

Colin Murphy
View Bio
January 10, 2018

A new season ushered in a slew of new challenges for the Severna Park girls basketball program.

Gone are all five starters from last year’s region-finalist team that went 21-5 overall.

Enter new coach Kristofer Dean, who replaced Lisa Magness at the top of the program, as well as a roster of fresh faces hungry for minutes in the rotation and a chance to write their own basketball story.

So far, the young and eager Falcons have largely been up to the task. At 5-5 overall, Severna Park has in many ways outperformed the expectations of their first-year head coach.

“Right now, I think we’re ahead of where we thought we’d be,” said Dean. “We continue to grow every day. The nice thing right now is we’re playing 10 players consistently, which I think is going to give them a whole lot of experience come the end of the season.”

Roster depth and an athletic rotation of multi-sport athletes have powered the Falcons to a 4-1 county record with wins over Southern and Arundel in December and victories over Glen Burnie and Annapolis in the first week of January.

PHOTO GALLERY: Severna Park girls basketball vs. South River, 12.22.17

Junior Rachel Ward, who was a member of last year’s squad, said the team has done well with the transition to a new coach, new system and mostly new roster.

“Losing every starter from last year required a brand-new start,” said Ward. “We quickly learned to pull together, and it’s made us a tight group; no stars, just teammates. … Our team is committed to syncing with one another, and that includes our coaches. They’ve had to be extra patient and supportive through the early part of this season. But they’re really good at knowing how to bring out the best in each of us. They expect 100 percent from us, and they’re the first to set the example for us to follow.”

The wins over Glen Burnie and Annapolis to start the new year gave Dean reason for optimism. Against the Gophers on January 3, Ward, Jessica Giblin and Jess Albert shared the leading scorer role with 10 points apiece as the Falcons won, 47-32. Giblin added seven assists and five rebounds, Albert had three steals, and both Giblin and Ward hit two 3-pointers. Emily Summer, Hailey Betch, Cam Chew, Rachel Spilker and Julia Ryan all had solid games in double-digit minutes, with Summers chipping in four rebounds and three assists.

Against the Panthers on January 5, another balanced effort produced a 58-33 win. Ryan (12 points, six rebounds), Spilker (10 points, seven steals, four assists), Albert (nine points), Summers (two points, nine rebounds), Ward (seven points), Betch and Kayla Minton (six points each), Chew (four points, four assists, four rebounds) and Kelsey Powers (two points, three rebounds) all played well in the victory.

Dean said the Annapolis game was the closest the team has come to putting together a complete, 32-minute effort.

“We came out strong in the third and even stronger in the fourth, and that’s huge,” said Dean. “We haven’t really seen that yet, so that’s a huge stepping stone for us and where we want to be, putting together four quarters. It’s coming. We’re really close, I think.”

If the team can maintain its advanced place on its own learning curve, a shot at the county championship is not unthinkable, and with four county wins in the bank, strong playoff seeding is also in play.

“We’re confident,” said Ward. “We know achieving a top seed in the county will be a challenge, so it motivates us to work harder in practice. All of us want it, so that’s a great place to be.”

With tough matchups ahead against Chesapeake, Old Mill, Meade and Broadneck, the Falcons have their work cut out for them. Only a loss to South River mars the Falcons’ county record thus far, and it was a Friday-night game Severna Park led almost the entire way before the more experienced Seahawks clawed ahead late to steal a win.

Dean nonetheless believed the loss showed how close the Falcons are to competing with the county’s best, as well as how wide-open the county is this year.

“I think we can play with anybody,” said Dean, “We’re young. Especially after the South River game, we just watched film, analyzed and figured out what we can do better next time we play them. … I think with as many girls as we’re playing, by the end of the year, as long as we take it one day at a time and get better every day, I think we’ll be right there for the county championship, or at least in the [discussion] … It’s a fun group. They’re really athletic. They listen, and all you can ask for is a coachable team.”

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