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Basketball Preview: Raiders girls to have formidable combo inside/outside

DANGEROUS WITH THE BALL — Junior MacKenzie Biastre will move to the starting point guard spot. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Eden’s roster may not feature a prototypical go-to player, but there are no foreseeable weaknesses among a versatile lineup of 10.

Head coach Marisa Fallacaro likes her three-point shooting, the depth in the post and has players who can handle the ball and deliver it inside.

This team seems to combine the rebounding-driven teams that helped bring the program back to respectability four to five seasons ago and the guard-oriented team that won the Raiders a sectional title in 2010-11.

“You can’t stop just one thing with this team; we should have five girls out there that can really play,” said Fallacaro, coming off a 10-10 season, which ended in the Class B-1 quarterfinals at Olean. “I have a bunch of girls around 5-foot-11 and I have some good guards, so there’s more all-around talent there. We’re really well-balanced but without one standout.”

As a sophomore starter, Sabrina Kraska had to play more as a forward on an undersized team; now, at 5-foot-7, she can play in a guard/forward role and use her ability to shoot the three more effectively, Fallacaro said.

Fellow junior MacKenzie Biastre, who also played many minutes last season, will move to the point guard spot with the graduation of three-year varsity player Emily Carias. Fallacaro also noted that Biastre is a very good defender.

Up front, Fallacaro welcomes junior transfer Lindsay Gearhart, who played a vital role for 15-5 Lake Shore last season. At 6-foot, she combines the ability to play in the post with being able to move well, and is a vocal leader even for being new to the team, Fallacaro noted about the junior forward.

Coming off helping Eden win a girls volleyball state title, 5-10 sophomore Meghan Ballou is expected to contribute thanks to her jumping ability, feistiness and the improvements she made during offseason camps and leagues. Also expected to contribute at forward are 5-11 sophomore Brittny Gates and 5-11 junior Hannah Mardino.

Adding leadership and depth in the backcourt will be the team’s lone seniors, Callie Abram and Katie Campbell. Fallacaro credits them with providing intensity, shooting ability and leading offseason workouts for the team. Also at guard will be juniors Kailee Ballou and Claire Czajka.

After winning the program’s first sectional title in nearly three decades, Eden has been unable to surpass the quarterfinal round the past two seasons. Fallacaro said she expects her team to compete in the division against what she believes to be its tops teams, again, in two-time defending champion Tonawanda and Holland, along with Cleveland Hill. She then hopes the Raiders can take a step forward in sectional play.

“We did all right last year but then we got handled by Olean in the playoffs,” said Fallacaro, who also expects Springville and Maryvale to be front-runners in Class B. “Our goal is to compete in the division and then I think sectionals are wide open.”

Fallacaro will attempt to ready her team for the WNY season with a trip to the Bahamas, where Eden will play in three tough games Dec. 5-7 against teams from New York, Pennsylvania and Florida. Divisional play begins Dec. 12 against Lackawanna.

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