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November 22, 2013

Barker girls basketball makes quick turnaround from field hockey

BARKER —

BARKER — The Barker girls basketball team may be just starting the winter season, but the level of player-coach familiarity throughout much of the team is about as high as it can be right now.

Basketball season may have started a couple of weeks ago, but coach Jeff Costello and a large portion of the lineup are still getting acclimated to the hardwood after a lengthy field hockey playoff run that ended in last Saturday's double-overtime loss to Cazenovia in the state semifinals. In field hockey, Costello coached the majority of this winter's 13-girl basketball roster, including first-team all-league field hockey players Olivia Denny, Heather Mason and Melissa Grosshans, as well as goaltender Caitlyn Mason.

The Lady Raiders are now making the transition to basketball in preparation for the season opener against Kendall on Dec. 2, and they are excited to move past last year's 4-10 season in Niagara-Orleans League play, hoping to carry the field hockey success onto the court.

"Last year, we struggled with getting shots and taking care of the ball," Costello said. "But on the positive side, our defense was much improved from previous years. For this season, we've definitely gained some speed and quickness, and we're hoping to be at least .500."

Costello said that past Lady Raider basketball teams have struggled to produce rosters of double-digit players. This year's squad has 13 girls, and Costello is excited at the luxury of being able to always run 5-on-5 drills without having to bring up JV players, which should only improve team chemistry and awareness on the court as the season progresses.

Barker returns its three leading scorers from last season in Denny, Caitlyn Mason and senior Julia Atwater. Denny, also a senior, has played at the varsity level since her freshman year, and her experience should serve as a calming presence for the rest of the starting lineup.

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