The Wilmington girls have a new look on their bench, but it’s a familiar face.
After spending 10 years leading the Greyhounds’ boys program, Mike Jeckavitch is in his first season directing the girls.
“It’s been a good transition. With the pandemic going on, it’s been about as smooth as it could go,” he said. “We had a really nice junior high season and the girls are starting to buy into what I am trying to preach to them and my styles, offensively and defensively.
“It’s refreshing to still be able to practice. A lot of Mercer County teams were suspended with activities in sports due to pandemic restrictions, but we’ve been allowed to practice, JV and varsity-wise. It’s one of the first times I’ve had a full team on the first days of practice in my coaching career.”
Wilmington’s continued success in football often overlapped with the start of winter sports practices, but that hasn’t been a problem with the girls. That’s a good thing, too, since the Lady Greyhounds have a young roster — 11 of the 15 players are sophomores or freshmen.
“We’re young and there is not a ton of varsity experience,” Jeckavitch said. “We have to figure out what girls can do what and what positions they’re comfortable in. Giving them the ability to play a little more loose and free is something we’re working on.”
Senior Sydnee Ward and junior Jadyn Flick both started on last year’s 4-16 team. Junior Madison Graham and sophomore AnnaLee Gardner also lettered. Gardner is the point guard and Flick is a forward. Sophomores Renee Ealy, Ellyce Black and Maelee Whiting could all see time as well.
“We don’t have much experience back. Coming in fresh gives them a chance to showcase their skills and abilities and show me what they can do on the floor. It’s nice to kind of have a fresh start,” Jeckavitch said. “I told them it’s pretty much open competition for every spot. The competition has been a nice thing and been inspiring them to become better than in the past.
“It’s been nice to see them all show up,” he continued. “I know the numbers have been an issue lately in the program. But, to see 15 girls coming every day is great. They are excited to see some success and, hopefully, build on that success the next couple weeks and years.”
Wilmington hopes to use some of its height to its advantage.
“We are a somewhat of a bigger team; we have some size inside and we do have some ability to rebound the basketball,” Jeckavitch said. “I think that’s going to be one of our biggest strengths.”
The Lady ’Hounds are in District 10, Region 4 and will battle Sharon, Lakeview, Greenville, Sharpsville and Titusville.
“Lakeview and Greenville are the top two teams in the region. Sharon has a new coach and Sharpsville has a new coach,” Jeckavitch said. “Titusville is extremely young. We’ll see how it goes.”