Coventry girls basketball gaining confidence

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent

COVENTRY TWP.  Given all of the curveballs that the current year has brought along, sometimes all you can do is laugh.

Coventry senior Cassidy Karakis deflects a pass during a Jan. 5 game against Mogadore as sophomore Lexi Dimeff (4) looks on.

The Coventry Comets are six games into a season where they were slated to play 10 games by this point, with head coach Trey Wright forced to chuckle when he tries to recall how many games have been postponed or rescheduled.

"Let's see ... we're 1-5 and we've had ... one, two, three ... four games postponed," Wright said. "For our six games we've played, the five games we've lost have been five of the best teams we'll see this season."

Playing 60 percent of their scheduled games and having five of those opponents be as tough a test as they're likely to face has left the Comets with a record that isn't what they would hope for, but with what Wright sees as an improving level of mental toughness and confidence entering the new year.

After taking on a Norton team that has dominated the league – previously the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division and now the newly formed Metro Athletic Conference – along with Independence and several other top local teams, Coventry has gotten to see firsthand the level of play it's working to reach as it tries to build a winning tradition.

"We've seen a lot tougher competition than we're used to seeing," Wright said. "We have a lot of work to do as a program, but the confidence I've seen from the girls makes a big difference."

Wright saw that confidence come into play when the Comets took on Field, which hasn't gotten off to as strong of a start as his team's other opponents. The result was a 22-point Coventry win, one they hope will be the first of several in the weeks ahead.

If the wins are going to come, they're likely to be the result, at least in part, to the offensive efforts of sophomore guard Lexi Dimeff, who recently posted a career-high 22 points and has handled a large part of the scoring burden for the offense.

She's gotten help from senior forward Cassidy Karakis, whom Wright described as "a bulldog for us on the boards and taking it to the rim." Karakis also posted five blocked shots in a half in a game earlier this season and figures to play a central role defensively the rest of the way.

Junior Hannah Ragland and Kylie Goodlet are two other emerging contributors and with that quartet anchoring the rotation, Wright believes there is a good base for a successful season. Dimeff and Karakis also bring a winning mindset to the team from their roles as players for the school's successful volleyball program.

With three straight league titles and a regional final appearance this season, the volleyball team has emerged as one of the top programs in the district and transferring that winning mindset from the volleyball court to the basketball court is something Wright has made a priority.

"Lexi and Cassidy are the two main ones who have had that success being part of the volleyball team and you can see it in both of them," Wright said. "It's something myself, my assistant coach, Lexi and Cassidy have talked about, trying to instill that mentality in our program."

The volleyball program has crafted a long undefeated streak in league play and with its first-ever regional final appearance, established a strong culture that Wright hopes takes root in the basketball program. Some other members of the volleyball team are on the junior varsity basketball roster, further connecting the two teams.

Right now, the Comets are enjoying a short break as they have the week of Christmas off to enjoy the holiday with their families. Their next game isn't until Jan. 2 and given the numerous minor injuries plaguing various players, the goal is for the time off to allow everyone to heal up, rest and be ready for a return to the court.

"Resting, that's been my big thing because we're struggling with injuries, just the normal body aches, shin splints and things like that," Wright said, adding that his message to his players heading into the break is simple. "Rest and don't eat too much of all that good holiday food so we don't have to run them too hard when we get back."