STEPHEN DECATUR WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW
(Dec. 6, 2019) Many of the Lady Seahawks on the Stephen Decatur girls’ basketball squad have been playing together for several years, and not just on the court, but on other sports teams as well, which will only benefit them this season.
“Nine of the 12 are upperclassmen, are juniors and seniors that have been playing Decatur basketball for several years. Being in their home gym for three or four years there’s a lot of pride, there’s a lot of sweat that’s going into trying to get to this point,” said Coach Scott Kurtz. “When you’ve been playing three or four years together there’s that jell, there’s those relationships that you can see they care about each other on the floor and off the floor.”
Eight of the 12 girls on his roster played last year when the team went 13-10. The Seahawks’ season ended in the second round of the regional tournament.
Kurtz, now in his second year coaching the team, said there is a good dynamic between veterans and new additions to the team.
“With the three younger girls – one sophomore and two freshmen – they bring a lot of basketball knowledge and young experience and talent,” Kurtz said. “There’s a lot of points that are gong to come from these younger girls. There’s a lot skill, so it’s really a great combination of solid basketball players and youth and that leadership from the veterans.”
Kurtz said the group is senior led, with good size and speed.
“There’s basketball players and there’s athletes and we have a good combination of both,” he said. “When you combine all their basketball strengths and their athletic strengths together, it gives you a lot of tools as a coach where you can do a lot of different things.”
Kurtz said the girls are in good shape and ready to get the season going, but unfortunately, the team is battling a few minor injuries and illness.
“We still haven’t seen our true team yet because of that. Once we have a chance to see our starters and role plays find their correct rotation it will be interesting to see how this team develops,” he said.
Leading the team will be senior captains Abby Yesko and Sarah Engle, who both recently signed National Letters of Intent to play lacrosse at the collegiate level.
Engle is headed to Division I Loyola University of Maryland and Yesko to Division I Youngstown State University in Ohio.
“They will give you everything they’ve got and they will leave it all on the floor,” Kurtz said. “They’ll do whatever it takes to help this team succeed.”
Both girls have played for the Decatur basketball team since they were freshmen.
“I’ve played with a bunch of different girls and this is a new team, but we have a lot of great forwards and I think we’re going to be able to put a lot of points up on the board this year,” Engle said. “Hopefully, we can go far in the playoffs and win Baysides. That’s our goal. We don’t have a weak link on the team. I think we’re really solid this year.”
Engle was third in points last year, with 134.
“Being on the team for four years I’ve experienced different types of teams and I feel like this year we are a mix of returners and we have a lot of new people including a new coach, so I feel like this year we can help each other, push each other and encourage each other to get better every day,” Yesko said. “We’re working a lot harder and our practices are more intense. I’m excited to see what the season holds.”
Junior Jessica Janney led the team last year in scoring (273 points) and rebounding (205).
Sophomore Nadia Bullock injured her foot last summer playing basketball and didn’t join the squad until about five games into the season. She finished second in scoring with 200 points, and third in rebounding (101).
Bullock earned Bayside South Conference honorable mention accolades for her performance during the season.
“When we went on a run late in the season they really led us,” Kurtz said.
Several newcomers will contribute, including juniors Jaden Waters and Emily Stitely and freshmen Mayah Garner and Shelby Rosemond.
Kurtz said if the Seahawks can play their best basketball they could contend for a Bayside Conference championship.
“I think the girls have started the season off in the right direction. If they can stay heathy and show up every day with their work ethic and attitude, I think we can play with anybody,” Kurtz said.
Aaron Wyatt has joined the program as an assistant coach. He was an assistant for two seasons for the Worcester Prep girls’ varsity basketball team before coming back to his alma mater.
“He’s been a blessing to this program. He’s excited to be back and we’re so excited to have him here,” Kurtz said. “It’s been a seamless transition because he already knew some of the girls. He’s bringing a lot of energy and knowledge to the program.”
Wyatt graduated from Decatur in 2004 and is thrilled to be back.
“I never thought I’d be coaching girls, but I enjoy it and I love it. Being in my home school, I’ve got a lot of history here, with me playing here, the stamp I left on the program then my mother’s history here has a lot to do with it all. I’m stoked to be back.”
Wyatt’s mother, Angie, who passed away in 2014, played two seasons for Decatur and racked up 1,000 points, he said.
“They’re capable of doing a lot of things, but they just need to be pushed, so I think can help them in that aspect,” Wyatt said. “Just preparation – Xs and Os – things like that, and get them to understand the game more … try to get that more aggressive mentality and change their mindset and their approach to the game. I want them to think every night we come out we can win.”
Decatur was scheduled to kick off the season yesterday against the Kent Island Buccaneers. The Seahawks will take a trip to Snow Hill to battle the Eagles on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.