Friday December 6, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
The cover of this year\'s Sun News annual Basketball Preview features Leah Jones and the Hamburg girls basketball team.
What is it that the Hamburg girls basketball team learned from falling in a second straight Section VI final last year? Well, it’s that losing stinks, of course.
“Losing, playing in your last game, is not fun,” Hamburg senior forward Kendra Quinn-Moultrie said at a practice this week. “I don’t want that feeling again. This, being our senior year, we want to win it.”
The Bulldogs haven’t lost much over the past two years, combining for a 36-6 mark during a pair of Class A finalist seasons, but in the biggest game, they’ve come up short, both times to a powerful Grand Island. So, this year’s team wants badly to get back and change that final result.
“We’re working very hard to get back and redeem ourselves and pushing each other every day,” returning senior starter at point guard Jill Ford said. “We all click very well and know what each other are capable of. We know when the right times are to get it in the post and kick it out.”
That familiarity stems from what Hamburg will be bringing back to the floor, as only one starter has graduated from a team that may have been a year ahead of itself in growth.
“Absolutely, there’s excitement,” said Quinn-Moultrie, who averaged a team-leading 13.6 points, as well as 7 rebounds. “We’ve been playing together since the seventh grade and are best friends, and who wouldn’t want to take the court with your best friends. Our goal is sectionals and everyone is on the same page. We’ve all said, ‘sectionals or bust.’”
This year, with what’s perceived as the team to beat in Class A — with seven players returning from last season, Hamburg seems to have the quality of talent and depth inside and outside to avoid feeling the same disappointment of the past two seasons.
“They’re chomping at the bit to start the season, Hamburg head coach Kelly Owens said. “The expectations are to get back to the final and walk off with a sectional title — it’s been our goal since Day 1. They talk about it a lot and I’m on them a lot about it...We have the ability to do great things.”
However, Owens is also stressing that they cannot just walk out on the court and beat everyone; they have to work for it. They’ll play tough out-of-league games against the likes of Catholic state power Cardinal O’Hara to provide the appropriate preparation.
“We know we haven’t won anything yet; no one is going to hand us the games,” Quinn-Moultrie confirmed. “We know we have to work hard every single game to get back to where we were last year.”
New to the local sidelines:
Brett Lyford steps in as the new head coach with the Lake Shore boys, replacing Dan Gerken. John Lewis takes over the North Collins girls for Vince Finninzio, who will replace Andrea Conrad at Lake Shore, when she goes on maternity leave later this month. Scott Gill is also new with the Eden boys team, as he takes over for Gary Vara.