Best on the Shoreline!
It's time to nominate your favorites for the 2021 Best on the Shoreline Awards!
Senior captain Kayla Holt and the Old Saybrook girls’ basketball team are looking to make some noise in the Shoreline Conference this year with a cadre of returning players. (File photo by Susan Lambert/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior Priscilla Gumkowski can bring plenty of speed and a smooth handle to the table for Head Coach Steve Woods and the Rams. (File photo by Susan Lambert/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Junior Beldina Feratovic was the Rams’ most consistent scorer last season, and she still has tremendous potential to improve in 2021. (File photo by Susan Lambert/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
The Old Saybrook girls’ basketball squad only notched a couple of wins last year but was competitive in far more games than its record indicated. With the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s Board of Control approving its winter sports plan on Jan. 14, the Rams have an avenue to compete this winter, and they are looking to take the next step in 2021.
Head Coach Steve Woods’s squad has great senior leadership in captains Taylor Stone, Kayla Holt, and Jenna Tully. Coach Woods knows the Rams are in good hands with this trio, and they each bring something different to the mix.
Holt and Stone are coming off of a fantastic year on the field hockey pitch, and Coach Woods hopes that momentum carries onto the basketball court.
“Kayla Holt is a field hockey star. She has the most basketball experience in terms of varsity minutes since she rarely leaves the floor. She’s played both the point guard and the off-guard. She’s versatile and quick, and she’s a very good defender. She’s very intelligent basketball player. She’s poised, strong, and quick; a heady player,” said Woods. “Taylor Stone was Player of the Year in field hockey. She’ll probably be our point guard. She’s extremely aggressive and has a great attitude. She can shoot, and she plays hard. It’s hard to ask for more from an athlete than what Taylor gives.”
Tully provides a solid inside presence for the Rams, but perhaps more importantly, she serves as the soul of her squad.
“Jenna is the most passionate player on the team. She’s a strong rebounder and can shoot well. She’s also got a good basketball IQ. She’s played a bit of guard, but we don’t need her to do that this year. That let’s her stay on the inside and box out for those rebounds. She’s great to coach, and she genuinely cares,” Woods said. “I think they’re all very deserving of captain because they are good leaders. Jenna is the heart, Kayla leads by example, and I think Taylor has a lot of credibility in how hard she plays and how well she communicates.”
The Rams have three other returning seniors in Priscilla Gumkowski, Abby Bergeron, and Molly Henderson. Coach Woods expects each of them will make an impact.
“Priscilla Gumkowski is extremely athletic and quick. She can do a lot of different things. She’s good in support. She can handle the ball pretty well, and she could have a great year,” Woods said. “Abby Bergeron’s the best shooter on the team. She can shoot the lights out from three. She’s small, but really athletic. Molly Henderson is positive, fun, and upbeat. She’s a great kid to have on the team. She sets a great example. She’s extremely coachable, and that helps when the other kids see that.”
Coach Woods expects to see junior Beldina Feratovic continue to make a name for herself in the Shoreline Conference this year. Feratovic has already showed significant skill, and Woods expects her to make an even bigger impact in 2021.
“Beldina Feratovic was still raw last year, but this kid can play. I figure her to be one of our top rebounders. She can pass, block shots, and she can score. She’s the most consistent scorer on the team. I’d imagine her point totals are going to shoot up this season,” Woods said. “She scores from everywhere. She can get inside and cleans the glass well. She’s a real talent. She can also steal and block the ball. She’s disciplined, too.”
Woods is especially excited about the Rams’ depth this season. While Feratovic should be a consistent scoring option for Old Saybrook, nearly any of the Rams’ main rotation players could go off on a given night.
“We’re not one of the top teams in the Shoreline, but we’re very deep,” Woods said. “Our top-10 are really interchangeable. I have some kids on the bench that could be as good [as] the kids who start. It should be really competitive.”
Some of the Rams other top rotation players include junior MacKenna Cooke, junior Lily Cody, and sophomore Abby Colella.
“Lily Cody is tough, and she’s a hustler. There’s no downshift to her engine. She’s got a phenomenal attitude. Abby Colella almost won that St. Bernard game last year. She’s so quick,” said Woods. “MacKenna Cooke will be another inside presence for us. She’s tall and athletic, so she should be able to do some of that inside work. She gives us some size, and she can get up and down basketball court.”
Rounding out the varsity roster are junior Cassie Johnson, junior Ella Hagelston, sophomore Juliette Condulis, and junior Sophia Barker.
“I think Cassie Johnson and Ella Hagelston can be real surprises for us this year, and Juliette Condulis came on strong for us at the guard position toward the end of the year,” Woods said. “We also have Sophia Barker returning after a year off, and she can also be an inside player for us.”
Of course, the biggest hurdle to the Rams’ season won’t be any Shoreline rival but rather trying to play during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rams are willing to do whatever it takes to have the chance to compete safely.
“When we start practice, we’re going to going to jump right into things immediately. I want to see who responds well. Some kids might be gassed, and some kids will be able to do it. I have to figure out how long they can go, and who needs more breaks. It will be a learning situation for all the coaches for sure,” said Woods. “I think everyone learned a lot from the fall season, and I think they are formulating a good plan. I’m incredibly hopeful for the kids. I think all the coaches are thinking if we can do it safely, then let’s do it, and if we can’t, then let’s not. As long as it’s safe full-speed ahead.”