The Delaware Hayes girls basketball team is young to say the least. The Pacers feature a roster with just one senior.
But, Lou Tiberi, who enters his second season at the helm, has some experience with this youthful bunch.
Hayes has 10 players on the squad that saw action last season, up from just four the previous year.
“We’ve got everything we need this year to be successful,” Tiberi said. “It’s just going to be a question of staying healthy and staying out of foul trouble.”
His lone senior is Piper Adkins, who, along with junior Katie Smith, will captain this squad. Adkins has watched the numbers in her class dwindle from seven as a freshman to two the following season before finding herself all alone last year.
“It’s kind of weird not being with the classmates that I started with,” Adkins said. “I tell the girls that the years go by fast and you have to deal with it with some kind of respect.”
Adkins believes this group is different, too.
“In past years we haven’t had girls with the mental toughness,” she said. “With these girls – they like to win and they hate losing. If we lose … they’re not thinking we’ll just get them next time. They’re thinking about what we can do better and they’re pushing themselves harder the next practice.”
Adkins believes that Tiberi has stabilized the program and provided an atmosphere that is about more than just basketball.
“We don’t just want wins and losses – we want teammates that become family that we can have relationships with past this season,” Adkins said. “It’s just amazing to see the kind of progress I’ve seen (since my freshman year).”
Sophomores Jordan Lantz, Alexis Amabile, Karli Theis and Alyssa Griner are all returning letterwinners that saw significant action last season.
Lantz missed the last eight games because of injury for the Pacers, who finished 8-15 overall and 1-11 in the OCC-Cardinal.
“We were around .500 before she went out and we won one game without her,” Tiberi said. “So, she makes a big difference – especially from a defensive standpoint.”
Griner is coming off a knee injury suffered in soccer.
“She’s looked good and rehabbed really hard,” Tiberi said. “She’s key for us.”
Adkins will be playing a little bit of a different role this season. She’s run the point in the past. But, with the emergence of Theis last season, Adkins will play off the ball more this fall.
“We’re going to move (Adkins) around a little more and take advantage of her versatility,” Tiberi said. “She and Karli will play pretty well together. I think it’ll help our ball-handling to have two point guards on the floor at the same time.”
Juniors Abby Stephens, Nadine Hassan and Kayla Thompson along with sophomore Telijah McCollum are back after seeing action last season.
Tiberi pointed to freshmen Chloe Jeffers and Sophia Nice as players who could make an impact in their rookie seasons like Lantz, Amabile, Theis and Griner did last year.
Nice broke her leg in the preseason and isn’t expected back until January. She was expected to play junior varsity and provide depth on the bench for the varsity team.
“(Jeffers is) another kind of gym-rat player,” Tiberi said. “(Sophia) was with us all summer and did a nice job … she’ll help a ton because we’re gonna stretch them at the JV level.”
The Pacers open their season Nov. 24 at Centennial at 7 p.m.
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