It’s better to have too much enthusiasm than not enough. The St. Peter’s Panthers have built this year’s team with that theory in mind.
As the senior girls basketball team plays out their Catholic School Athletics of Simcoe County (CSASC) season, they do so with a positive attitude.
“We just make sure that everyone shows up to practice, that they do their job and also have fun,” said Panthers senior player Noelle Livermore. “It’s high-school basketball, so we just want to work hard, have fun and hopefully win.”
This year, Livermore was joined by a group of Grade 11 students who are more than willing to go out and give it everything they’ve got.
“The senior team has come together very well,” said Isabel Caro, who is in her first year with the older Panthers squad. “I’ve been playing with these girls since Grade 9 and our shooting, our plays and the way we run the ball has gotten better.”
There is no denying that St. Peter’s runs hard up and down the court. But sometimes, they go so fast that they’ll just float the ball up rather than take a proper shot.
“Usually, that isn’t a strategy, because our coach says we should take care of the ball and look to where we’re supposed to pass it first,” Caro said. “It’s happened in every game, where we’re so eager to get points that we don’t control the ball.”
While the eagerness is an asset, there are different stages of basketball where that kind of energy is better suited.
“It’s tempering the excitement and getting everyone to calm down,” said Panthers coach Sean Hook. “It’s about showing energy on defence and composure on offence.”
When they put that combination together, the Panthers can be a force.
“Their speed and anticipation, because they’re multi-sport athletes, it allows them to steal the ball,” Hook said. “Once everyone gets on the same page, I think we’re going to be fine.”
St. Peter’s background in different disciplines can easily work in its favour, if it can put the pieces together with the pace to match.
“We definitely want to play fast, because that’s one of our skills,” Livermore said. “We have some basketball players on this team, but we’re definitely not all basketball players. We all come from different sports and have that same speed, so basically, we can blow by teams, but we need to execute on our shots and keep working hard.”
The Panther guards can carry the ball up the floor and launch a shot from the edge of the key in seven seconds, as they’ve shown multiple times in game action. But when you’ve got a 35-second shot clock, that isn’t always a necessity.
“I feel like we should really take time when we shoot, because sometimes it feels like we just shoot to get rid of the ball,” Caro said. “We should really be thinking about our form and where the ball is going.”
With a young group, that kind of rushed behaviour is natural. So Livermore takes it upon herself, as one of the team veterans, to help keep the composure.
“I say a couple of times (each game) for them to settle down,” Livermore said. “We have 35 seconds on the shot clock, so just make sure that we use those seconds. If it’s only been 10 seconds, we still have a lot of time to get a shot in.”
While the naturally athletic team carries plenty of potential, the downside of being players mainly comprised from other sports is that they don’t recognize defensive changes or hit as many baskets as experienced hoopsters might.
“On the defensive side, it’s a lot of rotating and communication and, (offensively), it’s shooting percentage (they need to improve on),” Hook said. “We do a lot of practice with shooting because we don’t have a lot of rep players, so we’re working toward increasing our percentages.”
But Hook, who likes to play an up-tempo game, is very happy with his Panthers and the attitude they carry each day.
“It’s a fantastic group of girls and you look down the bench and want everyone to play,” he said. “The goal is for everyone to get better and peak at the right time. It’s such a fun group.”
Photo: St. Peter’s coach Sean Hook goes over a play during a time out in recent regular-season action. Stephen Sweet photo