Roxbury basketball preview: Lady Rockets get new coach, new style of play

By Julia Green
While first-year head coach Tom Sherwood is no stranger to the game of girls’ basketball, he’s a newcomer to the home court at Roxbury Central School. Sherwood, who coached at Stamford Central School for 18 years, will be at the helm of the Rockets’ girls’ varsity hoop team this winter.
“Right now I’m getting to know the girls and they’re getting to know me and what the expectations are in practice,” Sherwood said. “Everybody’s working hard; we’ve got a lot of competition from the eighth-, ninth- and tenth-graders so far. We’re at the learning stage right now.”
The Roxbury girls began practice on Monday, and while Sherwood doesn’t have his roster set yet, he has four seniors and a junior already in place. RCS seniors Karly Bolger, Marlise Cammer, Danyelle Greene and Jessica Utsler return this year, and junior Rachel Meckes is a newcomer to the court. Sherwood will be looking to add three more players to the varsity roster.
“I’ve always believed that the best players play no matter what grade they’re in,” Sherwood said. “At Stamford I took a few eighth-graders to varsity. If I see the talent they’re going to get playing time – that’s the thing, I want them to get playing time.”
Despite not having a roster set, Sherwood has already been devising game strategy.
“We don’t have a lot of size so we’re going to have to play pressure defense,” he said. “We don’t have that 6’1” or 6’2” girl on the inside. We do have some decent size, 5’9” or 5’10”, but we’ll have to use our strengths, which are our pressure defense and, hopefully, our speed.”
On offense, Sherwood added, he likes to play an up-tempo, fast-break game without giving the ball away. On defense, he focuses on running a pressure defense without fouling. With eight girls, he said, they can’t afford to get into foul trouble.
“We’re going to have to cut down on turnovers and fouls,” he said. “And in practice, we’ve been spending a lot of time on shooting drills. Not having a big player, we’ll have to rely on outside shooting a lot.”
Looking forward to the season, Sherwood says he anticipates some good league competition, citing Davenport, South Kortright and Jefferson as the most promising teams.
“It could be pretty equal this year,” he said. “But in the same sense, girls’ varsity teams are becoming fairly even around the league. Those teams are at the top, but the league is becoming very competitive.”
“We’re just looking to improve and to learn the game,” he added. “Having had experience coaching, I’m trying to bring my philosophy about the game to the girls, and hopefully they’ll accept it and we’ll improve as the season goes along.”
The Roxbury girls begin with a scrimmage against the Margaretville Blue Devils at MCS on Friday and open at Schenevus on Nov. 25. League play begins after the Thanksgiving break.
This article is part of a series previewing the upcoming varsity basketball season. The next installment, featuring the Andes Central School and Margaretville Central School boys’ and girls’ teams, will be published next week.