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Late season surge gives Lady Blue Devils hope for 2006-2007 basketball season

Heading into the 2005-2006 basketball season, Bellwood-Antis Head Coach Nick Lovrich knew he would have senior leadership from starting point guard Jamie Smith, reserves Jessica Parson and Danielle Riley, and he knew Lauren Carter, another senior, would probably average close to a double-double every game. Beyond that, this past season began filled with tons of questions and not many expectations.
Although the team finished 11-13 and fell short of the playoffs, the team answered many of the questions surrounding it as young members of the Lady Blue Devils matured and Carter broke her own record for rebounds in a season.
“We improved our win total from last year,” Lovrich said. “Probably not a whole lot of people thought that we would win 11 games this year; so that was a positive.”
Carter finished the season with a team-high 482 points while averaging more than 20 points a game. Her total of 348 rebounds shattered the old Lady Blue Devils\’ record of 314 set by Carter a year ago.
Meanwhile, fellow senior Smith finished with 115 assists, many of them setting up Carter baskets.
When Smith wasn\’t dishing out assists, she was breaking presses and protecting the basketball. The team\’s low point during the season, according to Lovrich, happened when Smith was unable to serve in her role as point guard and team leader.
“The lowest point was when we lost to Glendale,” Lovrich said. “Jamie got injured that game, and that kind of put us down a little bit, because we had come off a couple good games. If we get that win we probably finish at .500.”
It is often said that the true measure of a team is how well it responds to failure, and the Lady Blue Devils proved they were a team with heart when they responded from their loss to Glendale by winning three of their last four games.
“The kids seemed excited by the way we finished the season, and I think its going to make them hungry to get into the gym and want to improve on what we finished,” Lovrich said.
One thing the Lady Blue Devils will have in their favor in regards to the transition into next season will be the amount of playing time many underclassmen received this season.
“One of our goals heading into the season was to develop a future, and we did that, because we got a lot of young girls a lot of playing time,” Lovrich said. “That\’s going to benefit us down the road, and it benefited us this as a team this year, because the kids have some talent.”
Freshmen Ashley Lechner and Liz Erickson started most of the Lady Blue Devils games this season, and sophomores Victoria Lombardo and Amanda Ingram each played in more than 20 games, with Lombardo starting several.
Lechner led Bellwood-Antis with 20 3-pointers, and shot a team high 23.3 percent from beyond the arc. Erickson was second on the team in scoring with 184 points and in rebounds with 129.
“During the course of the season both Ashley and Liz matured a lot,” Lovrich said. “They made some big baskets for us, and they both made some big foul shots with the game on the line, and I was pretty pleased with how they came in.”
Brittany Webb, who started in each game this season, will return as a senior next season. Webb led the Lady Blue Devils in shooting percentage from the foul line by making 79.2 percent of her shots.
At the conclusion of the season, Lauren Carter was named to the Juniata Valley League First Team All-Stars and was also the Juniata Valley League’s leading scorer, both in total points (365) and in points per game (20.3). Carter moves up from a Second Team selection as a junior in 2004-05.
Next years\’ Lady Blue Devils team will have to find a way to fill the void left by the absence of Lauren Carter in the paint and Jamie Smith running the point, but with the solid foundation built by the abundance of minutes played by underclassmen in the 2005-2006 season, the answers of how to fill those voids don\’t seem as far off as the did prior to this season.