Springdale girls basketball team ready to make noise in playoffs

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Saturday, December 4, 2021 | 7:01 PM


There’s an air of quiet confidence and cautious optimism that surrounds the Springdale girls basketball team, and there should be.

Coming off their first postseason appearance since the 2012-13 season, Springdale feels like it has all the necessary pieces. Simply put, it’s postseason or bust.

“We built this from the scrap heap,” Springdale coach Jerry Clark said. “I tell them all the time, you didn’t walk into a program that was already good.”

The days of the Dynamos being a pushover are over. Springdale closed out last year’s regular-season schedule winning three of its final four games to finish fourth in Section 4-2A. The Dynamos fell to Aliquippa, 59-28, in the preliminary round.

“We made it on our own,” said Clark who is in his second season as varsity coach.

The Dynamos might not have been a threat to go on and bust the Class 2A bracket, but the taste of the postseason has them wanting more.

Last year’s team also snapped home and section losing streaks.

“It was really exciting considering what has gone on and the lack of success the last five years,” Clark said. “Last year, instead of being the easy win for everybody, we beat the teams we should beat.

“We were hanging in there with some of the better squads, and we were there in the second half but they just wore us down.”

It’ll take a lot more to wear down this season’s Dynamos. Springdale has numbers. Unlike past years, where players would show up, get a jersey and be given a starting spot, Clark held tryouts for the second season in a row. The Dynamos boast a 20-player roster, a huge number for a Class 2A program.

“You could actually run sets at practice and play against the defense,” Clark said. “This current senior class was my first team ever (that I coached) down in the junior high.”

The Dynamos will be led by junior captain Grace Gent, a guard who was one of last season’s top scorers. Clark lauded Gent’s work ethic.

“She’s competitive, and she has a fire in her that I wish a lot more of them had,” Clark said.

Springdale will be guard-heavy and rely on team speed.

Senior captain and Geneva softball commit Brianna Thompson will serve as a swing player. Senior Emily Wilhelm will start at the other guard position, and 6-foot-1 junior Caity Stec will play center. Clark described Stec as raw with huge upside and great potential.

“I don’t think anybody has worked harder in the offseason,” Clark said. “She’s really doing a lot. She has really grown up as a person and as a player.”

Junior Addison Schussmann and sophomores Katerina Puskar and Jocelyn Walters-Vrabel also will contribute.

“The group as a whole, they are good students, they come from good families and they want to be good,” Clark said. “They’re used to success at other sports, and it’s just a matter of tranferring that over to basketball.”

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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