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The can’t miss kids: Wellsville girls’ basketball will be worth the watch

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By JOHN ANDERSON

Over the years, the great Wellsville girls’ basketball teams have had one thing in common: depth.

It’s not one player or even the starting five, it’s everyone contributing and defenses not knowing who will take the big shot.

This season, not only do the Wellsville Lady Lions basketball team have that depth and ability, they also are scoring over 20 points a game more than expected.

In their first two wins, Wellsville has scored 61 points (a big 61-39 win over Canisteo-Greenwood) and a 60-15 win over Letchworth.

At 2-0, Wellsville Coach Michelle Alvord now has 193 career wins with 200 wins within reach this season.

“I don’t want to celebrate 200 wins, I want to celebrate a sectional title,” Alvord said while taking time to go over the 2021-2022 team and schedule.

There are many coaches who prepare for their opponents and sectionals, and some work as hard as Alvord. But no one out-works Alvord when it comes to advance scouting and working to prepare for an opponent. it doesn’t matter if it’s a sectional final or a team the Lady Lions might see once a decade.

While putting this piece together, Alvord proves that point as she was going over North-Penn Mansfield, a team from Pennsylvania the team will play on Friday at 5:15 p.m. to tip-off the Cowanesque Valley Tournament. To prepare for Letchworth and to hold the team to 15 points, Alvord went over the offensive sets that gave Wellsville problems over the past five years.

Last season with Covid limitations, Wellsville was only able to play 12 games, going 9-3. The schedule is stronger to make another run at a title.

Which seems to be where the Lady Lions wind up every single year.

During the 1995-1996 season, Alvord led Friendship to the sectional finals and was named Section V coach of the year. She wanted to work at her alma mater (Alvord was on the state final four team in Wellsville) and had a successful run as a JV coach until being named the varsity coach for the 2011-2012 season. 

In her first 10 years, Wellsville has made the semi-finals or finals (five times) in 8-of-10 seasons including a title in 2015-2016 that ended with a loss to the eventual state champions. She has also won Section V coach of the year honors. Coming into the season, Alvord is 149-60 at Wellsville with 191 total wins.

But she wanted to talk about the 2021-2022 team and season. Every single player on the roster provides a unique skill set that can be used in situations to win a game.

“The depth of talent on this season’s roster has impressed me – we have a balanced roster,” Alvord said. “Marley Adams and Emily Costello have undeniable chemistry and leadership. This is a fun group to coach. They pick up on things quickly, push each other to be better, they are unselfish and buy into being a great defensive team.”

The five seniors leading the charge are Kaylee Coleman, Jalynn Mess, Jaelyn Knapp, Marley Adams and Emily Costello. Juniors Sara Reitz and Emily Robbins return with varsity experience with newcomers, freshmen Makenna Dunbar and Natalie Adams.

Dunbar has not played like a freshman, averaging 10.0 points in the first two games.

The next home game is Thursday, Dec. 16 against Allegany-Limestone then Dec. 22 with Olean. The team ends December in the Bath Tournament Dec. 28 and 29.

In January, Wellsville is at Olean Jan. 6; hosts Letchworth on the 8th, at Canisteo (6 p.m.) on the 11th and then on Friday, Jan. 14, play Hornell at 6 p.m. followed by the boys vs. Hornell at 7:30 p.m. 

On Jan. 18, Wellsville hosts Cuba-Rushford the hosts Bath on the 25th and Dansville on the 31st.

In February, Wellsville is on the road for four tough games, at Portville on Feb. 2, at Allegany-Limestone on Feb. 5, At Hornell on Feb. 8 and at Cuba-Rushford on Feb. 10. The final game of the regular season is Feb. 15 at home with Bolivar-Richburg which should be an emotional senior night.

“Our schedule is extremely competitive,” Alvord said. “This team can make a deep sectional run. In order to do that, we have to play quality teams to prepare for a sectional run.”

In the win against Canisteo-Greenwood, Emily Costello hit five three-pointers and scored 21 points while Marley Adams had 11, Dunbar scored 11, Knapp had eight, Mess scored five, Coleman four and Robbins one. Against Letchworth, Marley Adams and Knapp had 11, Reitz had 10 (two 3-pointers), Mess and Costello had six, Natalie Adams two, Coleman five and Dunbar nine.

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