Experience and identity key factors in promising season ahead for Knights


Prasham Jobanputra

The 2019-20 girls basketball team is looking to have a big season after two years of rebuilding.

TOWAMENCIN- The North Penn Knights girls basketball program has seen some major changes the last few years.  Back in the 2016-17 season, the Knights were conference champions and made it to the state quarterfinals.  One season later they went 6-16 and missed the playoffs.  Head Coach Maggie deMarteleire, a member of the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame, retired from coaching following that season.  Jen Carangi was hired and the Knights snuck into the playoffs with a 6-6 league record before losing in the first round of districts last year.

The last two seasons have been a struggle, as the Knights have an 18-29 record over the last two years, however this year the Knights should return to their winning ways.  Several members on the current roster have been on the team since their freshman year so they were there to see the Knights win the conference championship and also miss the playoffs entirely.  They got that taste of the playoffs last year which is a major advantage to have because they now know what it takes to be successful in the postseason.  Senior captain Carley Adams has been playing since her freshman year and has seen the ups and downs for the Knights.

“Being on the team freshman year, we had a lot senior leadership that taught us what it would take to make it where we are now.  We’ve had two difficult rebuilding years, that has taken a lot of perseverance and trusting in our teammates and the process.  It hasn’t been easy, but I think it’s worth it.  We’ve put ourselves in a position this season where we can finally reach the goals we’ve set for ourselves since we came into the program,” Adams said.

And all that experience is mainly featured in the starting five.  Adams, Alaina Mullaly, and Katie Early have been on the team since their freshman year and Val McGriff joined the team as a sophomore.  Junior captain Alli Lindsay joined the team as a freshman and enters her second year as the starting point guard so the experience for excellence is there.

Prasham Jobanputra
The starting five for the Knights; Alli Lindsay, Carley Adams, Alaina Mullaly, Katie Early, and Valerie McGriff; talk before tipoff.

“[Experience] will definitely have a big impact on the team as a whole.  A lot of us have been playing together since we were young and have great chemistry.  We know and understand everyone’s tendencies which will be a huge advantage.  Also we can easily bring in some of our underclassmen and direct them through the game which will definitely boost their confidence,” the senior captain Mullaly said.

While most of the experience is on the starting five, the Knights are still a team with good depth and will not have to overly rely on the starters, and last night’s game against Perkiomen Valley proved it.  The leading scorer of the night, freshman Abby Plaugher, came off the bench and freshman Ali Johns and junior Rachel Dunn also had solid games off the bench.  Junior Laynie Doran is also a key player off the bench for the Knights as she saw a lot of playing time as a sophomore last year.

With a good amount of experience and depth, the players should gel well together.  The most important key to success for the Knights will be staying true to their team identity, which is a scrappy and physical defensive team.  And the personnel fits perfectly for that mindset.  The Knights will have different looks in zone defense and Adams is going to be major factor in the defensive success.  Defense is one of Adams’s best skills on the court and she will be a versatile defender this year too.  She can play up top on the perimeter but also drop down to the charity stripe when the Knights go in a 2-1-2 zone defense.

Another major factor of the team identity will be the return of Early, who missed last year with a torn labrum.  Early’s defensive prowess down low, alongside McGriff’s paint protection, is going to make it very difficult for any team to get easy buckets inside.  As Coach Carangi said, the defense will create the offense.  It should be able to create a lot of fast break opportunities especially with Lindsay’s passing vision.

“I think most importantly it’s the way we communicate because every defender on the court is able to know what’s going on.  I also think we have played together for a while and we have solid basketball IQs that we can adjust to the other team’s offenses and the player’s tendencies quickly,” Early explained.

The Knights have gone through two years of developing and it all seems to have led up to this year.  They got their first win last night and will return to their home court Monday with a game against the Archbishop Carroll Patriots.