ADAMS TWP — There is a different feel to practice this season for the Mars girls basketball team.
“For the first time in a long time, the girls are really competitive in practice,” said Planets coach Tony Howard. “It’s making each player better.”
The 2011-12 season was a mixed bag for Mars as the team did tie Hampton for the Section 1-AAA title, but the Planets dropped a WPIAL first-round playoff game to South Fayette and finished under .500 (11-12) for the first time in four years.
Howard likes the talent on this year’s squad, starting with guards Teresa Dallatore and Sara Getsy.
“Both of them played point guard last year and will alternate there this season, depending on matchups,” said Howard. “We’re confident in both of them handling the ball.”
Getsy made steady improvement as a freshman last year and ended the season as Mars’ third-leading scorer at 6.9 points per game.
Sophomore Ali Goetz played underneath the basket a year ago and led Mars with 12.9 points per contest. She has added to her game.
“She’s developed a 3-point shot,” said Howard. “We will move her all over the floor this year.”
Others who could make the starting lineup or at least be key players off the bench include guards Alyssa Mathews, Gabby Kosobucki, Bonnie Workman, Jessica Bunner and Paige Castora and forward Daniella Paras.
Freshman guard Elyssa Paras had a productive summer and fall and could make an impact as well.
“We can go nine or 10 deep with girls we are confident with,” said Howard, “but sometimes it’s hard to juggle everybody and find the right combination.”
No matter who is on the floor, Howard believes the path to victory will remain the same.
“We are going to be a guard-oriented and fast-paced team,” he said. “We will try to spread teams out.”
Howard will be assisted by Mark Lewandowski and Lauren Varacalli.
The Planets will begin the season at the Blackhawk Tip-Off Tournament Friday and Saturday along with Conneaut and Beaver Falls.