Scott Dalton hasn’t yet made his official debut as Fenwick High School girls basketball coach, but he already is seeing big gains for the program.
Despite coming off a 7-15 finish last season, the Falcons drew enough interest among players this fall to field a freshman team for the first time in years, and a total of 28 players fill three rosters.
Dalton, who was promoted to replace John Rossi after three years an assistant, credits his time in the classroom substitute teaching for the increase in numbers because he was able to recruit more players, but a change in style of play also could have something to do with it.
“We’re really scrappy — that’s my No. 1 adjective to describe the team,” said Dalton, who retired from teaching last year at Middletown. “It’s going to be a different team than in the past, a little more up-tempo and we’ll push the ball up a lot. They love it. I think the girls like it and the fans like it, so we’re excited about it.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
Fenwick has more guards than past years, which necessitates the change in style, but Dalton ran an up-tempo pace at Middletown during his seven years as head coach there prior to joining the staff at Fenwick in 2014-15.
The biggest question going into this season is whether the Falcons are deep enough to keep the pace up for entire games. Dalton said he is trying to develop an eight- or nine-player rotation, and he feels confident he has at least eight with little to no dropoff when the starting five leave the floor.
The Falcons lost three seniors to graduation, including leading scorer Amanda Michael; however, several returners got valuable experience last year.
Senior center Jenna Adams, the lone true big among Dalton’s rotation so far, is back after leading the team in rebounding with 10.1 boards per game and adding 6.2 points per game last season.
Sophomore Hannah Beckman takes over as point guard after averaging 4.1 points as a freshman, and senior Anna Beebe slides into a shooting guard position. Junior Hannah Tebbe and seniors Kaitlynn Anzel and Isabella Arends all played in 18 games or more last year, and Dalton said juniors Elena Daly and Kelsey Daly also have improved greatly.
Others expected to contribute include senior Catherine Richards, a volleyball player who joined the team, freshman Emily Adams and Alter transfer Brooke Brunner, who has to sit out the first 11 games because of transfer rules.
“We’re going to be very balanced,” Dalton said. “We don’t have anyone that’s just going to step up and score 20 points a game, but we’ve had a lot of kids scoring 8-10 points in our scrimmages. It’s going to be tough to guard us because any one of our girls could get hot and have 15 points any given day.”
Much of the offense will have to come from the defense, Dalton said, but he has the type of players that can make that happen.
Michael (11-1) was the only player last year to average more than seven points a game.
“We have to get steals, get on loose balls and play with a little bit of attitude,” he said. “We still have work to do, but they’re adjusting well and buying into it, and they are very coachable kids.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
Fenwick hasn’t had a winning season since going 11-10 in 2013-14, but Dalton is hoping the excitement in the program can help spark a turnaround with a little patience.
The Falcons open Nov. 28 at home against Edgewood.
“We’re building a program. We are not the powerhouses like the Badins, Alters and Dayton Carrolls of the world, but we’re getting better,” Dalton said. “When I took over I knew it would take a while, but I think we will surprise a few people with our scrappiness.”
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to exclusive deals and newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.