Dansville started year 22-0, won first-ever Section V title

A 22-0 trip through the season that culminated with the school’s first-ever Section V title. Was perfection ever the goal this year?

That wasn’t necessarily something we targeted going into the season, but once we started getting towards the end and saw that we were getting pretty close to having an undefeated season, it started becoming more of challenge for the girls to look forward to. Looking at our schedule before the year started, I knew if the girls played well they could beat any team, they just weren’t necessarily expected to beat every team.

 

Along the way you also won the program’s first Livingston County league title since 1980. Mission accomplished all around this year?

When we sat down and made our goals, they looked up at the banner and they wanted to add two numbers up there.

 

This year’s group was very balanced. How was the camaraderie on this team?

Their team chemistry is great. They have been playing together for a very long time. They started very young and they put in a ton of work all year round. They have been doing that for a very long time, so they’re very used to each and their hard work paid off. That was very nice to see.

 

It seems like that goes all the way back to the youth level for these girls?

Definitely. I think the sooner the girls get started, the better off they are in the long run. We have a very good youth program in Dansville. We have a lot of people that help out and put a lot of time into it. That’s greatly appreciated, and it contributes a lot. Once they get up to the high school level, hopefully they’re above other players. That’s the goal.

 

What were some of the keys to this year’s success?

We have a pretty balanced team, which was nice. If a team tried to shut down one player, they struggled to do so because there was another girl who could step up and score just as easily. The girls were very selfless. They didn’t seem to care who was scoring most the points. As long as they were winning and all contributing, they were happy.

 

Dansville had not one but two talented post players this year in Arayana Young and Jackie Blechinger. How did that open things up?

That was nice. Jackie Blechinger was one of our main post players the year before. This year having another post player in Arayana allowed us to have a little more depth down low. That was beneficial.

 

Then on the perimeter, you have great talents like Grace Rittenhouse and Hannah LaPlant.

They both had great years. They can both shoot outside or attack the hoop, and they do a good job of feeding the post and looking for each other as well.

 

Who are some of your coaching influences?

I had Lester York in Canaseraga. Him and my dad both coached me growing up all the way through. Then I played at Houghton. I still meet with one of my coaches at Houghton regularly, Coach Williams. He’s had a big influence on me as well.

 

You also won a Section V title for Coach York as a player at Canaseraga. How does it compare to winning one as a coach?

I think it might be a little bit more rewarding as a coach than it was as a player. It’s definitely more nerve-racking because I can’t physically get out there and do it myself and I’m not in as much control. It’s definitely more rewarding to be happy for the girls to have that experience, and see the joy they have in winning.

 

How would you describe your coaching philosophy?

We really focus on defense. That’s one of the things we tell the girls. We don’t care how many points you’re scoring, we’re going to focus more on the defensive end and the offense will come. We like to push the ball, we like to fast break, we like to play high intensity defense, press most the time, and the girls have really bought into that system well.

 

Much of this year’s roster returns. What’s the future look like at the younger levels?

The JV team did well this year. Mike Didas does a really good job running the JV and assisting me as well. He’s a big help.

 

Is the sky the limit for Dansville girls basketball?

We’re going to keep working hard this summer and try to keep developing as just a team in general, trying to keep the overall ability where any player can score, any player can be the threat, to be very well rounded. I think the girls are going to have the goal to win leagues and win sectionals every year. I think, if possible, they would definitely like to go further than they did this year and go another level past sectionals.