The Lady Whalers Basketball team have yet to kick off their season this year. Practices began on November 26, the Monday after Thanksgiving break. The girls are now on a rotating practice schedule in order to split gym time between them and the Whaler boys team. This year’s the team has seen an increase of underclassmen, including freshmen Maclaine Willet and Tamoy Marner. The varsity team is also welcoming sophomores Sydney King, Shannell Whyte, and returning member, Ruby Dupont. However, the junior class is the most abundant on the team, with seven juniors on varsity.
Last year, the team relied heavily upon their three seniors, Jadelen Harold, Moneak Phillip, and Sterling Riseborough. Harold and Phillip were were last year’s captains, and were extremely influential on and off the court, with Phillip even earning Cape and Island All-Star for her efforts last season. While replacing three players can seem a daunting task, the team is confident that they can find a way to compensate for these losses.
Senior captain Paige Albertson was optimistic on the topic, saying, “This year we are depending on people to step up and fill their roles. However, we still have eight returning players, and plenty of new talent to build success.”
This new abundance of youth is an advantage that the team is not used to. In previous seasons, the team has used mostly seniors, with a small group of juniors and rare sophomore involvement. Now, knowing that they have the opportunity to build for the future, younger players are expected to be more involved in order to gain experience.
This season will begin with an away game on Tuesday, December 11 against Sturgis East Charter Public School. While this team has not been very problematic for the squad in past encounters, the Lady Whalers will need to stay focused and game ready, as tougher competition follows with Cohasset High School coming to the island on the 15th.
Ruby Dupont, a returning sophomore, adds, “I am really excited for this season. While with a new team comes new plays and new talent, I am confident that this year’s team will have a successful season.” In addition to a new team, the varsity squad will see a new change in coaching staff. Previous head coach, Lori Moran, stepped down from her position as she was planning on moving on after the 2018 season had finished. New head coach and previous lacrosse coach, Rafael Osona, has stepped up this season to teach the girls. Brian King will be joining as well as assistant coach, a role he has occupied before with the soccer team.
With plenty of experience under both of these coaches’ belts, senior Anna Steadman thinks, “I have seen both of these coaches before, and their reputation does not fail them. With their expertise the basketball program will see both growth, as well as improvement.”
However, these coaches have a new challenge ahead of them, as the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School will be joining the Lady Whalers in their league. With the pre-existing island rivalry, this game will add extra pressure to both the girls and the coaching staff.
Albertson, however, is not opposed to the idea, in her opinion, “The Vineyard island rivalry will bring crazy energy that makes everyone play at a different level. Through this positive energy, the game is likely to go either way, whether or not one team is favored over the other.”
The first game against the island rivals will be played on the Vineyard on January 12th. Then, the Vineyard will travel here to face the Lady Whalers on the 9th of February for a 1:00 game.
The team hopes to improve on last season, where they were knocked out in the second round of playoffs. They won their first game on home court against Saint John Paul II in a 45-30 victory. However, they could not keep the momentum going, as they lost away from home at Falmouth Academy by a score of 59-54.
While the Lady Whalers have experienced a change in players, as well as a change in coaching staff, their season remains promising. If the team is able to find the right balance between involving underclassmen and keeping a strong lineup, then they will be able to ensure success for years to come.
By KT Genthner and Emmet Clarke
Contributing writer & sports editor