A basketball player who thrives in the post can often work an entire court.
These players are usually tall, play close to the basket, and are capable of working against an opposing team’s defense with their back to the net. Post players do not have to be the tallest on the floor, but size does have its benefits.
Carroll County returns three of these crucial frontcourt players from last year’s Times all-county first team. Westminster sophomore Sophia Diehl helped lead the Owls with 10.8 points per game as a freshman. Zoe Costley, a senior forward, led the county champions in rebounds and averaged 10.3 points per game.
Liberty junior Rachel Thiem averaged 12.8 points per game as the Lions’ scoring leader.
“I think height is definitely important, especially on the defensive end for rebounding, even on the offensive end for rebounding,” Costley said. “Obviously, me and Sophia have the height on our team and a lot of other girls on our team don’t have that, but they still hold up their end.”
Other players that could have similar results include Century senior Emily Kain, Francis Scott Key freshman Savannah Brooks, Manchester Valley’s Sydney Resau, South Carroll’s Bethany Fowler and Winters Mill’s Kaitlyn Thompson and McKenzie Zepp.
Diehl added that the team should see an advantage in their speed and aggression on the floor this year. That speed should benefit the team’s transitions in some cases where height may not.
The Owls posted an undefeated record in Carroll County Athletic League play to capture their first county championship in four seasons. They defeated Manchester Valley, the two-time reigning county champs, twice in the regular season, but fell to the Mavericks in a Class 3A West sectional final.
“That’s what it is, it’s build-off,” Owls coach Dave Urban said. “You can’t look at the previous year and inflate it to, ‘Oh, that immediately means success.’ You have to look at what we did last year to get to that success and what you now have to do — one, replenish what you lost, two, don’t think that you have to replicate what you lost but how do you take a different step ...”
Urban added that the goal for his upperclassmen is to use their ball skills to help the underclassmen hone their talents to get in the right positions to make quality shots. Together, the Owls anticipate build from this to be successful.
Manchester Valley looks to rebuild for the first time in four years after losing Mackenzie DeWees, Carroll’s all-time leading scorer and four-time Times Player of the Year, to graduation. DeWees helped the Mavericks win two straight county championships and make three consecutive appearances in a regional final game. She compiled 2,157 points, 1,097 rebounds, 690 steals, and 385 assists in her career at Manchester Valley.
The Mavs return solid guards in Josey Klingenberg and Amelia Saunders to help lead the team, including a mix of young talent that should see ample playing time as the season progresses.
Three basketball programs welcome new coaches this year — Danielle Fieni, a former Times first team all-countian out of Westminster, takes over at Century. Francis Scott Key’s new coach is TJ Develin, and Jim Shea is in at South Carroll’s girls in replacement of Liz Padgett, who left for the athletic director position at Manchester Valley over the summer.
Klingenberg, South Carroll’s Bethany Fowler, and Winters Mill’s Erin Snyder are also fellow returnees from last year’s all-county team that should have a positive showing this season.
Jillian Pumputis played in 23 of 24 games for the Owls last year and is prepared to make a significant impact, along with sophomore guard Lauren Saltz, who Urban refers to as an “Energizer bunny.”
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“I’m just excited to see the improvement we can make this year,” Costley said. “We definitely are a completely different team than we were last year, so just us being able to build off of what we accomplished last year and learn from some of those mistakes we made last year … we have a lot of new key players that we can definitely use.”