Walsh girls basketball coach says team ‘peaking at right time’
CUYAHOGA FALLS — After a slow start to the season, the Walsh Jesuit High School girls basketball team is “peaking at the right time,” head coach Pete Zaccari said.
“We started out 0-6 and lost some close games, but since then we’ve been playing pretty well,” he said. “We’re a very young team with no seniors and pretty much mostly freshmen and sophomores. We play a very tough schedule and so we knew this would be a learning year. But we also knew gaining experience would make us better and it has.”
According to Zaccari, Walsh had an 8-12 overall record, including a 6-3 mark in the North Coast League, through Feb. 14.
“They’ve embraced playing a difficult schedule and they certainly haven’t backed down from playing anyone,” he stated. “They can feel themselves playing better and better and I think it’s been very positive. They’re getting a lot of confidence in themselves.”
The team’s captain is 5-foot-7 junior point guard Hannah Bouchy.
“We’re a team that’s filled with guards. We have a lot of good guards and small forwards, but we’re lacking post players and power forwards. So, Hannah plays the role of point guard on offense, but on defense she kind of plays the role of center and guards the other team’s post player on defense,” the coach said. “She’s kind of not a natural point guard, but we’ve forced her into that role and she’s gotten more and more comfortable with it. She’s been setting us up and getting us into the right sets, and she definitely takes on a leadership role on the floor. She also works very, very hard on defense.”
Zaccari said a lack of height is one of Walsh’s primary weaknesses this season, but the team compensates by playing “an up-tempo game.”
“We like to spread the other team out and we try to press the entire game,” he said. “We also run in transition anytime we can.”
The team has an eight-player rotation, Zaccari said.
“Sophomore Alaina Alessio starts at a forward spot and has a ton of ability. She is someone who I expect to grow and really come on in future years,” the coach said. “Katie Bachmann is a sophomore and she’s our backup point guard. She has great energy coming off the bench and she’s a natural leader. She’s played a significant role this year. Sloane Sapp starts at guard and she’s a natural scorer with a great three-point shot. She is a sophomore who has really improved on the defensive end and at rebounding. Katie Clark is a freshman forward and she’s our leading scorer at about 14 points a game. She has a ton of potential and she’s a hard worker who loves basketball. Another freshman, Angela Vitantonio, is a 5-foot-9 post player for us. She has played significant minutes more and more as the season has gone on. Halle Rogers is a sophomore forward for us and she’s a great two-sport athlete. She is one of the best soccer players in the area and she loves to play basketball. She is a great teammate. She also gives us a lot of mental toughness.”
The final member of the rotation, Zaccari said, is sophomore guard Jane Huscroft, who is dealing with an injury.
“She had started for us from the beginning of the season and was having a very good year,” the coach said. “But, unfortunately, she’s out with a shoulder injury now. She’s out for the rest of the season.”
Next up for the team is the postseason and following a first-round bye, Walsh will play Canfield High School in the sectional final Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at Canfield.
“Playing the tough schedule that we do prepares us for the playoffs, and the key for us is to take the improvement that we’ve made and be consistent with it. If we can execute efficiently and effectively, we can play with anyone,” Zaccari said. “And being a young team, the more experience we can get, the better. We’re hoping to get a victory at Canfield and then move on to the district semifinals. That kind of experience would be invaluable for future years.”
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