HYDE — Most years can be classified as rebuilding or reloading for high school coaches, and that’s true once more for veteran Clearfield Area High School girls basketball mentor Joey Castagnolo.
After losing four starters, two of whom rank in the program’s all-time Top 10 in scoring and rebounding, and almost 80 percent of his offense, Castagnolo’s task for his 15th season at his alma mater has been to mold a predominately-underclassman squad with limited experience into a unit that can compete in the tough Mountain League.
He’s banking on letterwinners Maggie Sopic, Mary Ishman, Emily Aveni and Emily Ryan as well as lone senior Brianna Spencer to lead the way.
After making spot starts due to injuries and illness to the three senior starters, Sopic moved into the starting lineup to stay when Spencer, for the second season in a row, was sidelined by an injury.
Prior to going on the shelf, Spencer had averaged 5.4 points in nine games with six three-pointers, a third of the Lady Bison’s season total. She was limited to 11 games in her sophomore season.
Sopic, a junior, tallied 66 points in 20 games after appearing in 16 games as a ninth grader.
Juniors Ishman (1.5 ppg) and Aveni (1.1 ppg) saw action in 20 games while sophomore Ryan (1.4 ppg) played in 18.
Juniors Sara Lash and Sarah Aycock and sophomore Victoria Ireland will bolster the front court along with soph Rachel Glenny.
Juniors Tessa Waring, Janessa Riddell and Macala Leigey and soph Margo Castagnolo, who appeared in 10 games last season, will provide depth behind point guard Ryan and backcourt mate Aveni.
Clearfield’s opener at the Brookville Tip-Off Tournament was postponed Friday, so the Lady Bison will make the trip Saturday to play the host Lady Raiders at 10 a.m. and then either Clarion-Limestone or North Clarion in the afternoon. The consolation game is set for two o’clock and the championship game at 5:30.
To be successful, the Lady Bison must improve on last season’s averages of 39.8 points on offense and 49.3 points given up on defense.
They’ll need more contributions from everybody to boost their scoring output after relying heavily on posts Breanna Peters and Dakota Farmery the last three seasons.
Peters ended her four-year career with 947 points, sixth on Clearfield’s all-time list, and 765 rebounds that surpassed the previous record of 680 that was set by Kristen Aveni, a 2004 graduate.
Farmery, in three seasons, accumulated 726 points for 10th place in Lady Bison history and 714 rebounds to rank right behind Peters.
Peters, a two-time Progressland Player of the Year, was named to the 2012-13 All-Mountain League second team while Farmery was an honorable mention selection.
The Lady Bison also lost point guard Brittany Renaud (3.0 ppg) to graduation.
Tessa Munshower (2.5 ppg) started as a sophomore but is not playing this season.
Clearfield finished 3-11 in the league and 6-16 overall in 2012-13.
Junior varsity coach Jerry Stewart (15th year) and Stan Solarczyk (9th year) will assist Castagnolo, whose record for 14 seasons is 178-170.
The roster, with (*) denoting letterwinners:
Senior – Brianna Spencer.
Juniors – Emily Aveni (*); Sarah Aycock, Mary Ishman (*), Sara Lash, Macala Leigey, Janessa Riddell, Maggie Sopic (*), Tessa Waring.
Sophomores – Chesney Boal, Margo Castagnolo, Rachel Glenny, Victoria Ireland, Sierra Jones, Emily Ryan (*).
Freshman – Ally Lindstrom.
* * * * *
The schedule, with (ML) designating Mountain League games and tip-offs at 7:30 p.m. unless noted:
7 – Brookville (10 a.m.) and Clarion-Limestone or North Clarion (TBA) at Brookville Tip-Off Tournament; 11 – CENTRAL (ML); 13 – HUNTINGDON (ML); 16 – at Punxsutawney; 17 – at Bald Eagle Area (ML); 20 – BELLEFONTE (ML); 27 – CURWENSVILLE.
3 -PUNXSUTAWNEY; 8 – at Tyrone (ML); 10 – PENNS VALLEY (ML); 15 – at Philipsburg-Osceola (ML); 17 – at St. Marys; 21 – at Central (ML); 23 – CENTRAL MOUNTAIN; 24 – at Huntingdon (ML); 28 – BALD EAGLE AREA (ML); 31 – at Bellefonte (ML).
4 – TYRONE (ML); 7 – at Penns Valley (ML); 10 – CURWENSVILLE; 11 – PHILIPSBURG-OSCEOLA (ML).