Margaretville basketball preview: Lady Blue Devils prepare for season opener

By Julia Green
The hoop season is underway, and Margaretville girls’ basketball Head Coach Kyle Holden is optimistic about his Lady Devils’ chances this season.
The girls, who finished last season 9-11 overall and 7-7 in league play, return seven players from last year’s squad, three of them starters. In addition to a strong core of returners, the Lady Blue Devils have a healthy source of senior leadership in the form of five seniors this season, to whom Holden will be looking for leadership.
“I expect them to play hard and to lead by example because they’re the seniors,” Holden said of his five 12th-graders. “But I gave that speech to all nine of them, no matter what their year.”
He added that although he had had a pretty good idea of what to expect in terms of his returning players, he was surprised by the cohesion the team has had thus far.
Junior Amanda Drizis, who played only four games last year, has rejoined the team, and sophomore Sara Batka is the only player to be pulled up from JV.
Holden said the team’s main style of play would be built around the objective of controlling the backcourt.
“We hope to generate offense by offensive rebounding, prevent offense with our defensive rebounding, and control the ball,” he said. “We like to play an up-tempo game, and we’ve taken a lot of the set plays out of the offense just so the girls can play basketball: look to screen for each other, take the ball hard to the basket, and try to get into a foul-shooting contest with the other team.”
Holden predicted that defense will be one of his team’s strengths, and added that rebounding will also be key due to the size of his squad. Lack of experience, however, could serve to be a potential weakness for the Blue Devils.
“But my girls are very competitive and very aggressive,” he said. “I want to try to use that to our advantage.”
Looking to the league competition that awaits, Holden said he anticipates that Davenport and South Kortright will be probable leaders of the league.
“They won it last year and until somebody proves otherwise… but I anticipate the whole league being strong this year,” he said. “It should be a very competitive region and should be a lot of fun.”
Holden added that he was pleasantly surprised by some of the goals that the players set for themselves.
“As soon as we came in this year, we sat down before we even touched a basketball to talk about our goals and our expectations for this year,” he said. “For them, they all wanted to become a team. We’ve always had good athletes but not necessarily a solid team. They made the decision that they want to be the best team they can possibly be, and I threw the challenge at them to not only make themselves better, but to make each other better.
“They want to see how good we can be, so we’re not going to put a cap on it. And that’s really exciting – it’s really fun to go to the gym each day now.”
He added that in addition to the on-the-court x’s and o’s, he would like to increase his team’s community involvement, citing the possibility of participating in Coaches vs. Cancer, a joint effort by the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches in the fight against cancer.
“I’d like to see us do something like that, as well as getting in and working with the younger kids when elementary basketball fires up,” he said. “I’d like to see some of our girls helping out with that.”
And, in discussing his coaching philosophy, Holden said he likes to focus on the big picture.
“I just want the girls to have fun, to respect the game, and to respect each other – that’s basically my philosophy,” he said.
“Winning is nice, losing’s not the end-all. I’d rather have a good, hardworking team that never gives up. I’d rather have character than a winning record.”
The Margaretville Blue Devils travel to Roxbury for their season opener on Dec. 2; the home season opens for MCS on Dec. 10 against Stamford. The MCS Booster Club Tournament is Dec. 12 and 13.