CLINTON TWP. — Six members of the Lackawanna Trail girls basketball team participated in the District 2 Class A championship game two years ago and are hoping to replicate that level of success after falling short of expectations last season.
“I want to make it to the district championship again, and win it this time,” senior guard Lexie Kwiatkowski said. “That’s what motivates me. We’ve come together a lot this year as a team. We kind of put everything behind us and matured.”
Kwiatkowski, senior guard Allison Decker, senior forward Laurelann Penn, junior guard Rachael Beemer, junior guard/forwards Cali Fauquier, Samantha Baltrusaitis and Alyssa Fowler, sophomore guard Lexi Deutsch and sophomore guard/forward Monica Stuenzi all return with varsity experience for the Lady Lions.
Freshmen Abby Wilson, Ashtyn Mecca and Kassidy Kostick round out the varsity squad.
“I have a strong roster, including six girls who have started in the past two years,” Lackawanna Trail head coach Lauren Sheakoski said. “We have three seniors who have huge potential. I think they’ve realized this is their last hurrah and we also have a strong junior class backing them up. I think that’s really going to help this season.”
Sheakoski, who is beginning her third season as head coach, is pleased with the direction of the program.
“I don’t have a lot of numbers, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing if the girls we have are willing to work. I think a lot of the issues we had last year were not on the court, but unfortunately off the court. I think the girls want to win this year and have the drive. They are a little bit hungry and look like more of a team.”
Sheakoski was impressed by the dedication of many players throughout the summer months.
“I had quite a few girls who not only worked on basketball, but also lifted a little bit in the offseason,” she said, “Hopefully, that strength helps them as well. I have girls who want to score this year and I feel like I haven’t really had that in the past.”
After the Lady Lions won a combined five games during Sheakoski’s first two seasons at the helm, she took a step back to determine the best course of action for the team moving forward.
“I had to evaluate myself a lot as a coach,” Sheakoski said. “I’ve been learning what comes with a varsity head coaching job. It’s not just go in there and do a practice plan, there are a lot of behind the scenes stuff that you have to get used to and fumble through. I think I’ve grown a lot as a coach. The girls know when I’m serious and they know when they can have fun.
“I’ve also made some changes to my coaching style, on offense and defense, to adapt to the kids which will hopefully translate into more success.”
Sheakoski doesn’t believe there is a clear-cut favorite to win the Lackawanna League Division 4 championship this season.
“I think any team can win on any night in our league,” she said. “I think it’s going to depend on who worked (hardest) in the offseason and you’re going to see that in the first few league games.”
Lackawanna Trail will host Dallas in a non-league game, Dec. 8, to start the season.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.