Lady Devils look to reload

According to the newest head coach at Bellwood-Antis High School, Mr. Nick Lovrich, “the excitement right now is putting together all of the many pieces to our Lady Blue Devil basketball team.”
Some ardent roundball enthusiasts predict that a rebuilding year awaits him. After all, Bellwood-Antis finished 24-8 last season and graduated Melissa Sitman, the second-leading scorer in school history. But the good news is that three starters return for the Lady Devils. However, Lovrich feels that many of the pieces of the rebuilding puzzle already exists.
“We have several players coming back that played big roles in last season’s success. They have been battle-tested and that should help them this season. The attitude and work ethic of the team has been thus far a huge asset. All of the girls are making the drills competitive while at practice and that will definitely payoff in games,” stressed coach Lovrich.
The returning starters include; junior forward Katie Gardner, who averaged 10 points per game and seven rebounds, junior Rachael Meredith and Ashley Edevane along with sophomore Stephanie Hatch, who look forward to helping defend the Juniata Valley League title.
Lovrich understands that it will take time for his squad to adjust to having a new coach and playing under a new system. “We are still getting comfortable with some of the new things we are doing this season. It is going to take some time…,” Lovrich added.
Having said that, Coach Lovrich knows full well that he has a tough job ahead of him in attempting to follow up 2001’s success. “We have to make sure that we don’t rest on our success from the past. The makeup of this team is completely different…. we need to develop our own identity and realize that last season is past history,” Lovrich said.
The Lady Blue Devils will once again play an adventurous slate of opponents sprinkled with top teams from among Class A and AA, especially with the upcoming Lady Blue Devil Classic to be held over the Christmas holidays. Among the best competition is expected to come from within Juniata Valley League teams such as Penns Valley, Juniata Valley, Southern Huntingdon and of course, always competitive Williamsburg. Added to the mix is the annual battle with Tyrone to open the season.
“The pieces to building our 2002-03 foundation and continuing to maintain our B-A tradition are present,” explains Lovrich, who will be joined on the bench by his wife Melissa, former B-A girls head coach, as assistant and junior varsity coach. “It’s going to be tricky, but we will relish the opportunity,” The Lady Devils open Friday evening at Tyrone.
Lastly, Coach Lovrich emphasized, “If our kids are willing to do the (Dirty) work-diving on the floor, boxing out, setting good screens and playing good defense-good things will happen…. those little things that usually go unnoticed are the things that win basketball games.”
The Lady Blue Devils are rated as a Team to Watch in Class AA by the Harrisburg Patriot-News preseason poll. Several opponents are also ranked-Bishop Guilfoyle is the No. three team in Class AA and Williamsburg is a Team to Watch in Class A for example.