WEST VALLEY — The West Valley girls varsity basketball team will be looking for a young team to come of age, this upcoming season. West Valley lost Megan Bailey, Rachael Zimmer, Jessica Baker and Victoria Calkins to graduation and will be looking for younger players to step up. Bailey was a three-starter for the Wildcats and is now playing collegiate ball at Alfred State College.
“We’re losing all of that experience,” said West Valley coach John Arbogast. “Not just playing experience, I had the experience of coaching them. They knew me and knew what I expected of them.”
Arbogast, a 1980 graduate of Springville-Griffith Institute, noted that he’ll be looking for some players to step up. While Arbogast lost some experience, he returns height in his forwards, with four players who are 5 feet, 9 inches tall or taller. He noted that he’ll be running a high-low offense and will look to take advantage of his team’s size.
Kaitlyn Snayczak, a 5-foot-11-inch junior forward, led the team in blocks last year and will be one player who will be looked upon to step up, offensively. Along with her post game, she can also step out and hit jump shots. As a sophomore, she was a part-time starter.
“I want to take advantage of her size especially,” Arbogast said. “She will have her chances to shoot from outside, too. She’s a really good passer; she’s our tallest player that we have but she can handle the ball. She’s just a natural athlete.”
Senior forwards Trisha Thomas and Courtney Walters are West Valley’s two returning starters. Thomas led the team in rebounding last year, while finishing in the top four in scoring.
“Trisha has already stepped up,” said Arbogast. “Trisha is pretty quiet, doesn’t really say much, but this year, she’s quietly taking over a leadership role. She’s encouraging her teammates; she’s looking out for everyone. Whether it’s looking out for someone that’s hurt, or pushing them through sprints, she’s really been a pleasant surprise, thus far.”
Thomas is one of just four seniors on the team, and the most experienced player. Arbogast said he will look for his team to work hard, from start to finish.
“If they play to their best of their ability, I’m cool with that,” said Arbogast. “That’s all I can ask for. I always tell them, ‘give me what you got, and let the chips fall’.”
Other forwards include Cameron McLeod, EmmaLea Erlandson and Alycia Currie. Jordan Seltzer will take over the point guard duties, from the graduated Bailey. With a lot of players obtaining new roles this season, chemistry has been a work in progress, according to Arbogast.
“We need some things to clean up, for sure,” said the coach. “Offensively, we’re leading a new offense, but we need to clean up our passing and make better decisions. Some of that will come with playing together more, with time. We need to have more patience with our passing, instead of trying to force it.”
West Valley changed leagues this season and will not play perennial powers Clymer and Sherman. The Wildcats will now be playing with the likes of Franklinville, Pine Valley, Ellicottville and North Collins, to name a few. Arbogast praised his support system at West Valley, that has helped the program in the past and present, including varsity assistant Bryan Hansen and athletic director April Preston.
“Bryan does a lot for me and the team, because I’m not a teacher there,” Arbogast said. “He calls the papers and updates our athletics website. He relates well to the kids and helps us with anything we need. He’s an important asset to have. April does so much for athletics, at the school. Anything I need, she helps me out. The support from both helps our team a lot.”
West Valley will open the season Dec. 5 at Portville.