Coventry girls showing growth on the court

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent

COVENTRY TWP. Growth has been the buzz word for Coventry girls basketball this season, both on an individual level and collectively.

Coventry Comets

The numbers reflect the up-and-down process that has unfolded 16 games into the season, with a 4-12 overall mark contrasted by a 4-5 record in Metro Athletic Conference play. They're numbers second-year head coach Trae Wright knows are part of the process for a team with quite a few younger players in key roles.

"One thing we need to improve on across our program is ball handling and not turning the ball over as much," Wright said. "I have seen that the past few games and we also want to work on our transition offense as well, where if we don't have that chance to score on the break, how to transition into our half court offense."

The ability to play fast but also adjust if the defense gets back in transition is no easy thing to grasp for any team, making it even more valuable for those who can master it.

Much of the season, it's been about scrapping through adversity and finding paths to win for the Comets, even if those paths are bumpy.

One recent example came in a 41-36 win over a much-improved Springfield team that pushed Coventry all game long before the Comets escaped with a five-point win.

"We came out in that game and the energy in the gym felt very down," Wright said. "Halftime came and I kind of lit them up a little bit, so in the second half we came out played with some real discipline and energy. (Springfield head coach) Kevin Pletcher's teams never quit and really, it was free throws that won us that game."

Wright noted that some unforced mental errors were an issue in the first half of the game, something he's seen more than once in a Saturday morning or early afternoon contest this season. In the end, Coventry used its superior free-throw shooting to claim the win, making good on its goal to shoot 70 percent or better from the line.

It was also a game that underscored how relatively fortunate Coventry has been in terms of its schedule this season. Wright realized as much over the weekend when he took part in the draw for the sectional tournament and talked to other coaches whose teams had only gotten six or seven games in thus far.

Senior forward Cassidy Karakis has been the team's most consistent player, both offensively and defensively, averaging nearly three blocks a game on the defensive end. However, she's gotten plenty of help from sophomore guard Lexi Dimeff, who has served as the team's primary ball handler much of the year.

The development of two other players has bolstered the rotation, as junior guard Hannah Ragland has battled injuries most of the year but is finally getting healthy and has shouldered some of the burden of running the offense. On the interior, freshman forward Madison Burkhart has delivered a key dose of toughness, one Wright said has filtered out to the rest of the team.

"She was a JV player at the beginning of the year, but she's really been an anchor at the five position for us since joining the starting lineup two weeks ago," Wright said. "She's a bulldog, just really aggressive down low and can guard any kid on the court. She plays softball and volleyball and really brought that winning mentality from volleyball. Now, you have the older girls looking at a younger girl and saying, 'Wow, she doesn't mess around.'"

For a team trying to build, grow and develop, each of those pieces is important and any wins the rest of the way would deliver a boost of momentum and confidence for a Coventry team with an eye on present and future success.