(Nov. 29, 2013) The Worcester Prep girls’ basketball team prides itself on its stellar defense each year.
During Monday’s season opener against the Gunston Day Herons in Berlin, the Lady Mallards nearly held their opponent scoreless. Worcester scored 52 points before Gunston netted its first basket of the night with 2:30 left in the game.
The Mallards won 56-2. Junior point guard Sophie Brennan led the Prep squad with 18 points. Senior captain Kristen Shriver, who missed the last two seasons because of a knee injury, chipped in with 12 points.
Coach Simona Holland was pleased with her players’ performance in the first game of the season. Holland was the head JV coach the last two years before taking over the varsity program this season.
“I would just like to thank my boss, Buck Mann, for letting me do this, and I would like to thank my volunteer Coach Fulton Holland for helping out the last three weeks,” Holland said. Mann and Holland’s co-workers attended the game to support her and the Mallards.
Holland said six Mallards have played for her and she has worked with nearly all of the other girls at one point, so that made for an easy transition for everyone.
“We really like the new coach. She has a lot of fresh, new ideas, so it’s really helping our team,” said senior captain Meg Lingo, a three-year player. “She’s been the JV coach so it was pretty smooth because we were already comfortable with her and her coaching style. I played for her my freshman and sophomore year.”
Added senior captain Lilly DiNardo, a four-year player, “Coach Simona is really helping with our fundamentals that we’ve been lacking the last few years. It’s a lot different from last year. I think it’s more structured and more strict, but that’s what we needed because we haven’t won a championship here in like 10 years and that’s something we’ve been wanting to do.”
Holland has 13 players on her roster. Seven Mallards have returned as veterans, while six are new to the varsity squad.
The team lost two players to graduation from last season, when the Mallards finished with a 12-6 record. Worcester lost in the semifinal round of the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference tournament. Brennan is the only returner who received All-ESIAC honors (Second Team).
Top returners include Brennan, DiNardo, Lingo, junior Molly Soule and senior Frankie Willing.
“I feel like I will be a great motivator for my team and just be a loud voice and hopefully a good leader,” Lingo said.
“I definitely think basketball is a sport you need leadership in. We have six seniors so that’s something we’re not lacking. Everyone’s really dedicated,” DiNardo said.
Shriver, junior Natalie Twilley and senior Alie Greer are newcomers who will contribute, Holland said.
The Mallards are athletic and all 13 players have been working hard, the coach said.
“They’re a great group,” Holland said. “They’re progressing well.”
Added Lingo, “It’s going to be a fun season. I’m really looking forward to it. We have a lot of new people on the team and we’re all meshing really well, so it’s exciting.”
The Mallards have been spending time working on their offense to get it at the same level as their defense, Holland said.
“I’m really excited. I hope we’ll finish with some good results,” she said. “I hope we can do better than last year, do our best every game and win the championship, but it’s my first year so we’ll see how things go.”
Added DiNardo, “I think we’re evenly matched with all the other schools as far as skill-wise. I think all of us agreed we really want to win playoffs because that’s something we’ve never done before.”