The Bethlehem girls basketball team is going to be one of the top Suburban Council squads again this year. It may just take a little time to show.
Several players are still transitioning from their fall sports to basketball because their teams went deep into the playoffs, which puts the Lady Eagles at a disadvantage as they head toward their season-opening trip to the Lady Dutch Holiday Classic Nov. 28 and 29 in Guilderland.
There's not a lot of time (to prepare), said Bethlehem coach Mark Nealon. "With a lot of girls playing other fall sports, we're a little behind some of the other teams."
There's also the question of filling some holes in the roster. Guard Christine Murphy and forward Sara Thompson both graduated, and forward Kiersten Swete is out with a foot injury.
"We're going to miss them, that's for sure," said Nealon. "But some of the girls we have coming back have had a year under their belts, and a couple of players who came up from the JV team for the playoffs last year gained some valuable experience."
Bethlehem does have three key players returning this year " guards Meg Olsen and Taylor Teal, and forward Alex McCullough, who has added a perimeter skill to go along with her abilities near the basket.
"She's developed a very nice outside shot, which we're excited about," said Nealon. "She's expanded her game."
McCullough may see some court time as a guard, since Bethlehem is loaded with forwards up from last year's junior varsity team including Julie Landrigan, Tracy Koch and Rosie McKee, who made her presence known with a five-point performance in last year's Section II, Class AA semifinal victory over Amsterdam.
"We're going to be big, there's no question about it," said Nealon. "Pretty much every game " gosh, I hope we don't see a team that's bigger than us. If we're smart and aggressive, then we should do well on the (back)boards."