With small roster, Pirates will depend on endurance, hustle to be competitive
Numbers will not be on the side of the Port Washington girlsâ basketball team this season.
Hustle and endurance will have to be.
With only eight players expected to start the season on the varsity roster, third-year coach Brian Johnson knows his Pirates face a sizeable depth challenge.
âItâs definitely tough but not something we canât deal with,â Johnson said. âRight now, weâre just taking whatâs available.â
Port, which went 6-18 overall and 3-11 in the North Shore Conference last season, will need a productive youth movement to be competitive.
The Piratesâ top players are three seniors who were regular contributors last season â Mikayla Hilton, Kayla McIlree and Stephanie Volesky.
Hilton, a 6-foot swing player, will be counted on to provide much of the scoring punch. Last season, she averaged 6.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game on her way to honorable mention in coachesâ All-NSC voting.
âMikayla is our leader. Sheâs the kid with the most experience,â Johnson said.
âSheâs strong and has really matured as a player and a person.â
McIlree (5-9) and Volesky (5-6) return to a backcourt that will also feature sophomore Brianna Ahner (5-6) at the point position. Ahner played AAU basketball this summer and has looked good in practice, Johnson said.
âKayla will be our defensive stopper, a lock-down kind of player,â he added.
âStephanie will be one of our better shooters from the perimeter.â
Rounding out the roster are junior guard Hannah Lilly (5-6), sophomore forward Hanna Strohm (5-10), sophomore forward Regan Curtin (5-8) and freshman guard Allie Uselding (5-6).
âWe donât have any real true post players or point guards, so everyone will have a chance to play different positions,â Johnson said.
âIâm pretty confident in the players we have. Weâll see what they can do.â
The Pirates lost most of last yearâs starters and much of his bench to graduation, including their top two scorers, guard Caity Tydrick and center Nicole Ziehm.
As a result, Johnson knew the Pirates were likely to have a young, inexperienced team this season. Heâs not conceding anything just yet, though.
âWeâre not going to complain about our numbers. Weâre going to work hard and get better,â Johnson said.
âWeâre going to be fine with it.â
With perennially strong teams such as Nicolet, Grafton, Cedarburg and Whitefish Bay on their conference schedule, the Pirates will have to score a few upsets to make their mark this season.
âWeâve certainly got some challenges, but overall Iâm happy with our situation,â Johnson said. âThe girls who are here want to play, and that gives us a chance to compete.â
Port opens the season Friday, Nov. 23, when it travels to University School of Milwaukee for a 5:30 p.m. game.
The Pirates will then continue nonconference play Nov. 27 with a 7:30 p.m. contest at Whitefish Bay Dominican.
Image Information: READY TO TACKLE a new season for the Port Washington girlsâ basketball team are (from left) Hannah Lilly, Regan Curtin, Kayla McIlree, Mikayla Hilton, Stephanie Volesky, Hanna Strohm and Brianna Ahner. Photo by Sam Arendt