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Lady Flyers learning to lead without Rosten, post 0-3 mark at NCCC girls hoops tournament

Maryvale girls basketball coach Tim Klimtzak knew that replacing Ciara Rosten wasn’t going to be an easy task.

The Lady Flyers’ alumna and University of Massachusetts-bound center wasn’t just Klimtzak’s best player last season — she was arguably the best player in all of Western New York.

Klimtzak and his Maryvale squad are working hard this summer to lessen the blow of her departure.

The Lady Flyers took part in the Second Annual Niagara County Community College Shootout July 12 in the NCCC gymnasium. A host of area teams participated in a 12-squad tournament that was eventually won by Williamsville South.

While Klimtzak’s squad finished 0-3, he was happy with the performance that his girls, some of whom were thrust into roles they had little to no experience playing, turned in.

“We most definitely made some positive strides,” said Klimtzak, whose club fell to bigger schools Williamsville North, Sweet Home and Niagara-Wheatfield. “Especially with our offense that we run, a lot of the girls are running sets for the first time. And being out of position, it’s good experience to see them in different spots.

“They’re learning that they have to create on their own.”

Creating offense wasn’t an issue for the Lady Flyers in 2013. Behind a first team All-WNY season from Rosten, the Lady Flyers finished second in ECIC III and marched to the Class A2 finals, where they fell to East Aurora.

Rosten averaged 22 points, 15.7 rebounds, 2.95 assists, 3.1 steals and 2.55 blocks for that squad.

“It was huge that she knew the game so well,” Klimtzak said of Rosten’s presence on the court. “It made the game open up for so many other people because everyone else that we played had to focus on her. It helped us create so much.

“But the young girls are learning to create for themselves and are playing unselfish. Ciara did a great job of that; she was unselfish and got people involved. Our young girls are getting a chance to create for themselves now.”

In addition to Rosten, the Lady Flyers graduated four other players and played with a roster composed heavily of underclassman at NCCC.

Still, Klimtzak was happy with the way his youth responded to different situations throughout the tournament. For example, in their second game — a loss to Sweet Home — while the Lady Flyers’ youth was apparent at times, Klimtzak was pleased with their ability to combat a heavy, aggressive press from the Panthers.

“Sweet Home plays always up on you and puts a lot of ball pressure on; they do a lot of trapping,” Klimtzak said. “We’re not very big, we’re not very strong. We have to work together, because if we don’t, it causes a lot of problems.

“I thought we did okay with the pressure. There were points where we were scattering like crazy because of it, but then there were points we handled it well, because we slowed down. That’s good for a young team to do.”

While the group is young, Klimtzak has counted on a group of veteran returners to lead the Lady Flyers through the summer and into next season. A pair of returners, Deanna Davis, who will be a senior, and Kelsey Cadwallader, who will be a junior, will be leaned on both on and off the court. Additionally, senior guard Kayla Pembleton brings experience to the young squad.

Beyond them, newcomers Alyssa Zbock, Amanda Wellenc, Lindsay Walker, Unique Walker, Alexa Hoiensahl, Hailey Buckenroth and seventh-grader Kaitlyn Cadwallader — Kelsey’s sister — participated in the NCCC tourney.

Klimtzak noted that while the Lady Flyers took their lumps playing against a high level of competition, participating in the tournament will only help them in the long run.

“It’s going to put them in a position where when it comes to our season, they see the game nice and slow,” Klimtzak said. “I think we have a ways to go right now. Summer has been hit or miss with whether or not we have a full group, but the group we do have works extremely hard.

“They’re all great girls. If we can keep working through the summer, as the season comes along, I think we can be a competitive team.”

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