Longtime Carroll Christian girls basketball coach Matt Reisberg relishes the spot he’s in these days.
That's because the Patriots have more experience, depth, talent and dedication than his previous teams that lost in the Maryland Association of Christian Schools Athletic Conference championship game to Harford Christian the past three years.
“It’s a rare year when you return all five starters,” Reisberg said. “It gives us a better chance than in the last three years to have a shot at winning a championship. It’s something to really look forward to see where we can end up.”
Carroll Christian is off to a sterling 5-1 start and the Patriots' only setback came by one point to the Frederick Force, a team made up of home-schooled players.
Carroll Christian’s biggest asset is its experience.
Reisberg welcomed back senior center Erin Delph, senior forward/guard Sarah Hendra, junior forward Mikaela Martin, and sophomore guards Camille Echegoyen and Sydney Wooden to the starting lineup.
Reisberg says the familiarity among his players is another strength.
“If you go back a couple of years, I am starting mainly eighth-graders and freshmen,” the coach explained. “And they were able to get to the second position. The players on the team this year are confident. They are seasoned veterans.
“This is Erin’s fourth year as a starter and Sarah is in her second year as a starter,” he added. “You look at Camille and Sydney, they were pulled up the varsity as eighth-graders and now they are in their third year as starters.”
Carroll Christian’s top players are eager to basketball — often.
Anytime Reisberg wants to practice, he says the Patriots are anxious to get to get started.
“They are extremely hard-working,” Reisberg said. “Most of these girls I would affectionately call ‘gym rats.’ If I am opening the gym, they are there. It doesn’t matter if we are talking over the summer or Christmas break. They also play AAU ball on teams.”
Having the entire roster — including junior forward/center Bethany Delph, senior forward Sarah Bernatowicz, sophomore guard/forwards Emily Wright and Leah Hendra, sophomore forward Kaylee Strickland, sophomore center Faith Taylor, and freshman guard Marlee Reisberg — at his disposal allows Reisberg to constantly shuffle his lineup due to the program’s best depth in five years.
“I can play a chess match,” Reisberg said. “I can say, ‘This team is fast, I want to go with this lineup. This team is big so I want to go with this lineup.' We can move the pieces around as I need to.”
Reisberg said Erin Delph, who anchors the frontcourt, is a mobile player and solid defender who gets to the boards.
“If you look at my starting five, she is often the one who doesn’t show up in the stat column, but she is the captain and the leader,” Reisberg said. “She is the defensive stopper. They will play to the level she does.”
Echegoyen does many things well by being an excellent distributor and ball handler who can knock down the top-of the-key jumper.
The senior isn’t afraid to mix it up inside, either.
“She is a complete player,” Reisberg said of Echegoyen, who averages 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. “She plays multiple positions in the system.”
Echegoyen said the Patriots’ chemistry is tough to duplicate.
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“We have grown a lot and have come together more as a team,” she said. “We have better chemistry. The other conference teams we play don’t have the chemistry that we have.”