Two years ago, Bishop Luers pulled off one of the biggest wins in the modern era of their program, being the first SAC team to knock off Homestead. Last year, despite two three game losing streaks, they put together a 13 win season and showed they were contenders in certain games. Now, with a wealth of experience on the floor and the bench, expectations will rise for the Knights to make another impact.
Bishop Luers returns seven players who are expected to all see a lot of playing time this year. Some rolls will increase with the loss of the Gray twins to graduation and and Libby Bierbaum (4.7 points per game), who will miss basketball season after a surgery. That will leave a highly experienced senior class of Lydia Reimbold, Dori Javins and Kennedy Glenn to handle a bit of a bigger load and more of the leadership responsibilities.
“Lydia, Dori and Kennedy we are going to be expecting a lot out of them. This is basically their fourth year on varsity. And I think when you have experience, you are up 10 the game is not over and if you are down 10 they know they game is not over,” said Bishop Luers coach Mark Pixley. “They’ve been through a lot of playing situations where I think that will come in handy.”
Reimbold will draw a lot of interest from most teams. Playing like a guard, where she averaged 14.1 points to lead the team, hitting 37 percent of her three pointers, Reimbold is also extremely long and difficult to defend at the rim. She averaged a team high eight rebounds last season.
“I think she is going to be more vocal on the court,” Pixley said. “And she’s developed a nice midrange game. She’s either been a three point shooter or a layup player and over the summer she really developed a nice eight to ten foot pull up jumper that I think will help her a lot.”
The post play, where the Knights have had success in the past will be by committee with Reimbold, Glenn and Anna Parent all needing to pick up the slack down low to make quicker moves and work an inside out game to play to strengths all over what Pixley hopes to be a more balanced lineup. Glenn averaged 4.9 points and 3.4 rebounds as at the biggest presence down low, but lacked consistency at times. When she was on, like the double overtime win over Carroll, she was able to be a game changer blocking shots and protecting the rim.
Delaney Bailey could be the breakout player of the Summit Athletic Conference this season after playing just the last nine games a season ago as a transfer from Homestead. She averaged 8.6 points and five rebounds once she got into the lineup including a 16 points, eight rebound game in a win over Bishop Dwenger.
“She is a great shooter from the outside and she also surprised me with how well she rebounds,” Pixley said. “She is just another experienced girl who has played a ton of AAU ball and is ready to have a full season under her belt.”
Also in the backcourt, Janaiya Bright (6.5 points, 1.9 steals per game) will return for her third varsity season and be a leader on the defensive end with her quick hands and ability to get up the floor. She will likely play point guard and help get things set up for the offense. Javins (Top 50 Girls Hoops #34) has developed a more inside-out style heading into her senior year and was actually second on the team in rebounds with six per game last season. Freshman Sarah Sylvester will be part of the varsity team that can play point guard some and prepare for the future.
Returning depth is important at the Knights have that with girls who know their expectations. Much of this group also knows how much last year’s 0-3 start hurt them so they have it engrained in them to just work harder. If Pixley can get the most of this group, they are going to be a top half SAC team in a year where there is a lot of parity amongst programs.
WHY NOT HIGHER?
Even with a lot of players back, their two losing spells last season were tough ones and makes it hard to anoint the Knights much in the preseason. Last preseason they were expected to be one of the top teams in the area and an 0-3 start put a kibosh on that quickly. Still, the Knights are going to be an aggressive team and one who can score well inside. With a quality SAC win or two under their belts, they will be considered a better program.
NOV. 14 AT SOUTH SIDE
Needing that quality SAC win? Bishop Luers will get a test quick with their first conference game of the season. If the Knights can fast start, they have the experience to push the Archers. Win or lose this game, it is a tone setter for the rest of the conference all season. Is there a big gap between the top two teams in the conference and everybody else or can Bishop Luers prove it to be more narrow?
PLAYER TO WATCH
ANNA PARENT, SOPHOMORE
The need for depth in post play allowed Parent to get varsity experience in 18 games last season, averaging 5.6 points and 4.9 rebounds along the way. She is long and plays bigger than her actual size and as she gains more experience, the slack she will take off Glenn and Reimbold inside will make Bishop Luers stronger.