SPORTS PREVIEW: Lady Tigers basketball

The Lady Tiger Basketball team is bringing back some experience.

2016-17 Tiger girls basketball team. (Courtesy Photo)

For The Herald

The Lady Tiger Basketball team is bringing back some experience, but they still remain fairly young as they start off the 2016-17 basketball season. The Tigers are returning starters Paige Ehlis, Hallie Kuske, Elizabeth Kaufman, and Adrienne Roller this year, and Kassi Lara is filling the open spot on the starting five lineup. The rest of the team is made up of junior Tori Jalbert, and six freshman, Molly Rayhorn, Shelley Kathrein, Hadley Binstock, Lindsay Koch, ShyAnne Allen, and Emily Dinius. The lady Tigers lost only one player last year to graduation, but replacing Jenna Ehlis is easier said than done for the Tigers. Head coach Jordyn Mason—who is in her third year as Tiger head coach—is looking at her veteran players to take the lead and help build team chemistry, along with helping the young teammates find their roles on the team. New England is starting the season ranked eighth in the region, and Mason is very optimistic that as the season progresses, her team will be moving up in the rankings.

“People put us there because we kind of depended on Jenna in the past and last year everything went through her. So a lot of teams don’t know what to expect from us this season. We are off to a little bit of a rough start but I am going to expect that with the new girls that haven’t played together before and the inexperience coming off the bench. Now early in the season where people are going to make those mistakes, it doesn’t really matter where we are at now as long as at the end of the season we are playing the best basketball together,” Mason said.

Starting at the point guard position is junior Paige Ehlis, who has been a starter for the Lady Tigers since her freshman year. Ehlis’s height at 5-foot-11 is a big advantage for the Tigers, as she will be an all-around player for the team with her shooting ability and the way she takes care of the ball.

“Everyone looks to her as the leader on the team. She is a point guard, and she is going to lead our team on and off the court. She is always trying to make people better,” Mason said.

Hallie Kuske has also been starting for the Tigers since her freshman year. The 6-foot center has the ability to shoot anywhere on the court, along with the ability of being able to post up and be strong at the basket which makes it tough for defenders to guard her.

Sophomore Elizabeth Kaufman is a returning starter from last year, and even though she is a 5-foot-3 guard, she plays like she is over six feet tall. Kaufman is starting the season with an average of 10 rebounds per game, and also has been averaging a double-double so far this season.

The Tigers have two seniors Adrienne Roller and Kassi Lara on the roster this year. Roller started halfway through the season last year and is going to bring a lot of leadership for the Tigers.

“She (Roller) is another great leader for us. She has a great outside shot, but she really understands the game and is always in the right spot. She plays really good defense and is always working really hard,” Mason said.

Senior Kassi Lara sat most of last year’s season last with a knee injury. Lara found out this summer that she tore her ACL and is due to have surgery after this year’s basketball season is over. Her injury has Lara playing a different role this season, and despite having a knee injury she is playing really good defense for the Tigers.

Junior Tori Jalbert comes off the bench and gives 100 percent to her team.  She is very vocal leader, and bring a lot of leadership and enthusiasm to her teammates.

Freshman Hadley Binstock plays backup post and she can battle with the best of them and works extremely hard on the court.

Freshman Molly Rayhorn plays backup point guard for the Tigers, and despite being a young player she has an extreme amount of knowledge of the game and is smart with the way she plays the game.

“You would never know she is a freshman with how smart she plays. She understands the game of basketball better than anybody I ever coached. She also can be a threat scoring for us as well,” Mason said.

Freshman Shelly Kathrein has been coming off the bench and has seen some considerable playing time this season. Kathrein is a defensive asset for the Tigers.

“She is been coming into varsity games and playing amazing. She plays amazing defense, and is a super quick girl.

Three other freshman Emily Dinius, Shyanne Allen, and Lyndsey Koch have also made the varsity roster this season.

“For the future of New England Girls Basketball, getting those girls the experience early on, and seeing how well the veterans on the team are bringing them in and teaching them and helping them it is really good to see. Along with that we have a lot of versatility on the team,” Mason said.

Mason is assisted by Branigan Bender, and Devan Koch.

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