Confidence running high for Quaker Valley girls after strong finish to last season

Saturday, December 7, 2019 | 10:25 AM

The maturation process sped up for Quaker Valley’s girls basketball team toward the end of last season.

The young Quakers, who did not have a senior on their roster, used a strong surge to qualify for the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs. They made it to the WPIAL quarterfinals and earned a PIAA tournament berth.

“Going that far was awesome. We’re definitely building confidence and some momentum going into this year,” Quaker Valley junior point guard Bailey Garbee said. “Now that we have such a great foundation back from last year, we can only build off that and get better.”

Reaching the postseason was an accomplishment for Quaker Valley. The team needed to beat Ambridge in the Section 2 finale to qualify. The Quakers pulled out a 45-43 victory. It was part of three straight close wins to end the regular season (43-42 over Montour and 50-48 over Shady Side Academy as well). They continued it in the postseason with a 41-38 upset win over Freeport.

“Last year was huge,” Quaker Valley coach Tom Demko said. “Down the stretch, we knew we needed that last section game and just how hard they played that game, in order to stay in it and come out on top, it was almost like validation to prove to themselves they could be a playoff team.

“Getting that first win in the playoffs was big also. We played Elizabeth Forward tough (in a 46-38 quarterfinal loss). The girls know they were close. With a lot of hard work put in during the offseason, we’re hoping to go further.”

The Quakers were more than just happy to be in the postseason. They learned some important lessons along the way.

“That was a great experience for us,” Garbee said. “Getting a win in playoffs and knowing what that feels like is great, going forward, especially for this year.”

Garbee is back to direct Quaker Valley’s offense.

“We’re a little quicker this year. We’re deeper, and we’re definitely looking to push the ball as much as possible. I think we have one of the better point guards in the WPIAL,” Demko said. “With her defense and offense, I think the whole team kind of flows through her. If we can get the ball up the floor quicker, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to get early chances and points before we get into our offense.”

Junior Corinne Washington led the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game. Classmate Claire Kuzma returns to the starting lineup. Seniors Amy Wilson and Maura Conlin will be in the starting lineup as well.

“It’s nice to have a system in place and just build on that,” Demko said. “The girls are stronger and hungrier. We’re looking forward to the season and seeing how far we can get.”

In addition to the physical improvements another year brings, the team has benefited mentally.

“I think the decisions are automatic now and we don’t have to think as much,” Garbee said. “Everyone knows where everyone is going before anything happens. It’s a lot easier to play as a team. I think we definitely started to grow and grow as a team and play better together toward the end of last season. I think the team chemistry is what got us as far as we did. We’re looking to continue that.”

The Quakers hope to challenge for a section title, too, against the likes of Blackhawk and Central Valley.

“I am already seeing they are not afraid (to think) they belong when we face the top teams in our section,” Demko said. “Early on in the year last year, there was not a lot of reacting, It was a lot of being pressured and not being able to handle it. The confidence they have in themselves and their ability is really the big thing. In the second half of the year, they saw they were getting better. We’re just really excited to get going now.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.


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