2022 GIRLS HOOPS PREVIEW: No. 3 Snider Panthers

Snider’s Johnea Donahue goes up for a shot during a January 14 game at Homestead. (Photo by Leslie Palmer)

The hype surrounding the Panthers for the last two seasons will continue to carry over into a new season with a new coach at the helm.

Another new coach…that has to be something Snider fans dislike, but the guy they are getting in Reggie Tharp is great. Tharp was on the bench last year so it is not a complete departure and he doesn’t take over with a rebuild like many who came before him. A good, knowledgeable coach with a good starting base is a good place for Snider to continue to contend.

That heavily respected Class of 2024 will again be led by Jordyn Poole and Johnea Donahue. Poole is undoubtedly one of the best players in the state regardless of class and her heavy D1 recruitment acknowledges that. Last season, she took a backseat at time offensively for a senior transfer but expect her to just explode this season as most know she can. Poole averaged 12.7 points per game but also developed her court vision throughout the season leading the Panthers with 4.4 assists per game.

Poole is also a lockdown defender and her partnership with Donahue in the backcourt was very dangerous. Donahue and Poole combined for 3.8 steals per game, often setting up opposing ball handlers for failure by rushing them and making them make poor decisions. Donahue was also an offensive threat at 8 points per game, a number that is expected to rise.

The depth of the class took a step back but also gets bolstered by the return of Tia Phinezy who did not play last year. She averaged 5.9 points and 4.4 points per game two seasons ago.

Ciara Sims is the other big returner for the Panthers in that stacked junior class. She averaged 5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game last season.

From there, the Panthers will deal with some younger players getting an enhanced role. Brie Barnes saw a decent amount of action last season, averaging 2.4 points per game with her role expected to get a lot bigger as a sophomore. Zyann Phinezy and Kyra Parker area also expected to see time for the Panthers.

Why #3?

The Panthers are still going to be one of the hottest teams in the area because of the sheer strength of their backcourt and defensive intensity. It is very hard to score points against them at a high level and that makes them a tough out every single night no matter the opponent.

Are they able to make a deep run? That depends on how they control the paint, but if last year was any indication, this team will continue to be stout for the next couple of years because of the strength of the Class of 2024. So much even that maybe they played above themselves at times with those group as underclassmen.

Snider is a top contender in the SAC and area postseason for certain.

Why not higher?

The Panther lost, statistically, their two best players from a year ago to graduation and transfer. Those 34.2 points, 10 rebounds and 6.2 steals per game are a lot to replace from their top two scorers, rebounders and steal leaders from last year.

Also, we want to see how this team meshes with not only a new coach but a first time high school head coach. Reggie Tharp has the experience and knowledge, but there may be a learning curve so we want to see what happens.

Crucial Game

January 6 at Northrop

The Panthers’ conference schedule is backloaded and this is the first of the bigger games in the conference. Fittingly, it is also the team that many expect to win the conference.

This could be an absolute dog fight and while the SAC may still very well be up for grabs after this game, there is still a good chance that this determines the champion ultimately.

Two powerhouses with Division 1 talent, it is a can’t miss game.

Critical Player

Tia Phinezy, junior

Her return is something that will be big in offsetting the previously mentioned losses in the Snider lineup. Phinezy was a big part of the Class of 2024 powerhouse that started out together as freshmen in the one year she did play. She gives Snider a nice post to work off and can really rebound.

Two seasons ago, Phinezy had some big and consistent rebounding games and that is a piece that will really help Snider grow.

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