The FDR girls’ basketball team is looking to improve upon last season, when it went 14-4 but lost in the first round of the Section 9 playoffs to Washingtonville.
With four returning starters, the Presidents are relying this season on their experience to compete in Class AA, where FDR finished second in the Mid-Hudson I League standings.
Juniors Ashley Merritt, Allison Pritchard, Darien Demils, and Madison Lee will lead the way for FDR head coach Cliff Sauer.
“We are lucky to have those four back, as well as several other experienced players,” Sauer told The Observer. “We had a good year last year, so it’s nice to have that experience returning.”
Although the Presidents bring experience to the table, they lack physical size, something that Sauer has recognized could be a weakness for his team. In preseason practices, the coach has preached boxing out and being consistent in the rebounding game to his players. Demils and Lee saw time last year as forwards, and are expected to patrol the paint again this season.
Sauer says that overall team defense will help to make up for FDR’s lack of size on the glass.
“We need to be a little more aggressive in terms of ball pressure; causing turnovers will be important for us,” Sauer said, adding, “So far, we are seeing improvements every day.”
As the team’s primary guards, Merritt and Lee have the responsibility of leading FDR up the floor on offensive, which will resemble a dribble-drive attack. This type of offense results, again, from the Presidents’ size issues.
“With our guards and smaller lineups, we are definitely looking to drive the ball a bit more and get to the free-throw line,” Sauer said. “To do that, we need to get out in transition and be aggressive.”
In addition to FDR, the teams that compete in the Mid-Hudson I League are Walkill (the defending champion), Saugerties, and New Paltz. The league, according to Sauer, may be one the strongest in Class AA.
“Across the board, I really think that everyone got better, including us,” Sauer said. “It’s going to be a tough league to play in, but I know we will compete every night.”
Sauer invites all FDR students and members of the Hyde Park community to come watch the home games because he feels the team will entertain and excite.
“They [fans] will see a very aggressive and fast-paced team,” Sauer said. “They pass well and play hard. It will be fun to watch.”
The Lady Presidents opened their season on Dec. 9 with a loss at home, 64-45, against Monroe-Woodbury, a team that went an impressive 20-2 last season. In their second game, facing last year’s Division I title winner Wallkill on Dec. 13, FDR lost 55-48, unable to overcome a 22 point deficit after a 15-0 Panther run to start the second half.
Hyde Park was scheduled to face New Paltz last night and to host Ellenville tonight at 5:45pm.