Early bird tickets for Baltimore’s BEST party on sale now!

Westminster aims to be on the outside looking in


Gone are the days when the Westminster Owls can go inside and dominate teams.

This season, coach Bernie Koontz will rely on a new cast of athletes and a perimeter game to bring home wins.

"We're going in a new direction with a different group of kids," Koontz said.

"Last year, we were very big and relied on our inside game, while this year we'll have more of a perimeter game. It's going to be a big challenge, but we have a lot of good athletes who are working hard and playing together."

The Owls lost six regulars from last year's squad and have only a handful of returnees with varsity playing experience. Koontz will rely heavily on 5-9 senior forward Julie Backof. He believes her athleticism will help her overcome any shortcomings she has in size.

"She's very quick, goes to boards hard and has nice inside moves," Koontz said. "She's always working hard and has stepped forward as a quiet leader."

Also returning is junior Lauren Kadlubowski and senior Lauren Zuskin -- both guards. Koontz said Kadlubowski has a "no-stop attitude" and has worked hard during the off-season and maintained a strong work habit in practice. Zuskin is a versatile guard who can do a little bit of everything.

Zuskin and junior newcomer Sandra Geiman likely will share time at point guard and Koontz also can go to juniors Alyson Young and Wendy Fritz in the backcourt.

"Lauren Zuskin provides leadership for us at the point and Sandra can come in and give us a lot of speed and quickness," Koontz said. "We have a number of kids who can step up and contribute in different ways.

"Everyone's doing a nice job and we're taking the little steps to improve every day."

Last season, the Owls had much more depth -- particularly up front -- and relied heavily on the inside play of graduated forwards Kenya Warfield and Tinah Houck. The two combined to average 22 points a game and controlled the boards.

The Owls won't have that luxury this year and must rely on a couple of newcomers to try to pick up the slack. Koontz is particularly high on 5-11 forward Beth Lister, who's coming off a fine volleyball season.

"She has to step up to the varsity level, and so far she has done just that," Koontz said.

Cassandra Conklin and Tara Dorsey -- two 5-8 juniors -- also will try to fill the void at forward.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad