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Basketball Preview: Talent at Lake Shore is there to take another step forward

The 2012-13 Lake Shore High School varsity girls basketball team includes, from left, first row: MacKenzie Ciciera, Miranda Aikin, Michaela Stepniak and Josilyn Benton. Second row: Kristen Sedar, Jessica Ackley, Melanie Linsmair, Darian Evans, Shayla Scanlan, Alie Jimerson and Lindsay Gearhart.

Although some key players were lost among the five that graduated after last season, Lake Shore has the potential to continue the improvement it saw last year during a 13-7 campaign.

Head coach Andrea Conrad expressed that optimism, thanks to the confidence she feels in this year’s senior class of four and a group of youngsters that includes present and future impact players.

The Eagles’ season ended in a disappointing one-point loss in a quarterfinal playoff contest at Hutch-Tech. This year, Conrad hopes her team’s season can be extended.

“I hope that instead of just getting to the quarterfinals that we can go to the next level and at least get to the semifinals,” Conrad said. “I think we have the potential to do it…I have faith in these girls and I know with senior leadership that we should be able to get that far.”

Seniors Miranda Aikin and Michaela Stepniak will also be counted on for scoring and leadership as the most veteran players on the team. In the backcourt with Aikin, who is back to start at the point, will be Josilyn Benton. Stepniak, a forward who can also play guard, has been with the varsity since her freshman year. Benton should also contribute offensively, being quick off the dribble. However, her and Aikin’s biggest contribution may come on the defensive side of the ball.

MacKenzie Ciciera, a senior, who improved in the offseason, should be reliable contributor from off the bench. Helping at guard will be juniors Kristen Sedar, a transfer from Gowanda, and Alie Jimerson, a speedy defensive stalwart.
After contributing as a freshman forward during a 13-7 campaign, Darian Evans and much of Lake Shore's team is back this season. (Photo by Ron Larson)

The sophomore class may be the most impressive part of the team. Among the four players up on the varsity this season, Melanie Linsmair and Darian Evans already made significant contributions at that level as freshmen.

Linsmair, the team’s most versatile player, will play forward although she is being groomed eventually to be the team’s point guard. Conrad said Linsmair is capable of playing just about any position on the court with her ability to handle the ball, shoot, drive and defend.

Evans came up early during her freshman season and made an immediate impact, helping turn the team around with her play in close to the basket. Conrad believes Evans should be even more prepared for what lies ahead on the varsity.

Adding to that sophomore class are newcomers Lindsay Gearhart, a six-foot forward who will see more and more playing time as the season goes forward, and Jessica Ackley, who moves from forward to guard and is quickly improving.

Eighth grader Shayla Scanlan, already a lacrosse standout at the high school level who’s got size and athleticism, may also get called up to the varsity to contribute at forward.

After a good season in ECIC II, Conrad is a bit frustrated to be moving back down a division. The Eagles will play in the eight-team ECIC III where they’ll face front-runners Pioneer and East Aurora. Conrad feels Springville and Cheektowaga should also give her team a hard time.

Lake Shore girls 2012-13 Schedule
Tue., Dec. 4 at Dunkirk              6:30 pm
Thur., Dec. 6 Silver Creek Tourney   TBA
Fri., Dec. 7 Silver Creek Tourney      TBA
Tues., Dec. 11 vs. Amherst           6:30 pm
Tues., Dec. 18 at Springville        6:30 pm
Wed., Dec. 19 vs Hutch Tech       6:30 pm
Thur., Dec. 20 vs Cheektowaga   6:30 pm
Fri., Jan. 4 vs. East Aurora               6:30 pm
Wed., Jan. 9 at Pioneer                    7 pm
Thur., Jan. 10 vs Depew               6:30 pm
Mon., Jan. 14 at Maryvale               7:30 pm
Fri., Jan. 18 at Amherst               7:30 pm
Tue., Jan. 22 vs. Springville         6:30 pm
Thur., Jan. 24 at Cheektowaga     6:30 pm
Fri., Feb. 1 at East Aurora               7:30 pm
Tues., Feb. 5 vs. Pioneer               6:30 pm
Thur., Feb. 7 at Depew               7:30 pm
Tue., Feb 12 vs. Maryvale               6:30 pm
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