Saugerties girls’ basketball coach predicts surprise

Coach Michael Melville is looking for top-notch play from his Lady Sawyer seniors Miranda Ritvanen, Abby Smedek, Kristina Lilland, Nicole Joers and Rachel Wood. (photo by Robert Ford)

Coach Michael Melville is looking for top-notch play from his Lady Sawyer seniors Miranda Ritvanen, Abby Smedek, Kristina Lilland, Nicole Joers and Rachel Wood. (photo by Robert Ford)

Despite having lost two of the best players to ever come out of the Saugerties Lady Sawyers’ basketball program, Kellyann Averill and Tanisha Edge, who are currently starting for their respective college teams, head coach Michael Melville believes this year’s team will surprise a lot of people with the quality of their play.

“That’s what many of the other coaches believe, that we lost our two best players and this year we might not be that good,” Melville said during a recent interview. “But some of them are in for a surprise.”

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Last year’s team won its Section 9 division before falling in the quarter-final of the region. While Melville doesn’t expect this year’s team to advance to that level, it just might turn some heads. This year’s team is lead by seniors Miranda Ritvanen, Kristina Lilland, Abby Smedek, Rachel Wood and Nicole Joers, and a host of talented underclasswomen such as Grace VanRoy, Jaclyn Murphy and Erin Dudzic.

All these Lady Sawyers played in the high-pressure games towards the end of last season. Melville believes that experience will serve them well this season. “They all also played summer league,” he noted, “and some of them played AAU ball, and that experience will also help this year.”

Melville is looking for big things from Grace VanRoy. He thinks her younger sister, Anna, will also play an important role this year.

“We have some terrific guards in Murphy, Ritvanen and Dudzic as well,” Melville said. “We’ll have a very balanced team that will look to run where we can.”

The girls’ season gets under way with games this Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the annual Geisler Tournament at Saugerties High School.

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