WEST ORANGE – The West Orange High School girls’ varsity basketball team has a strong returning nucleus, which bodes well in achieving a successful season.
Losing just one player to graduation (Jasmine Boone-Alexander, who was a great defensive presence on the defensive end), the Mountaineers’ leading returning players are 5-foot-3 senior guard Sidney Gordon, 5-4 junior guard Jewel Burnet and 5-11 senior forward Candis Ferrell, who made first team, second team and honorable mention, respectively, on the All-Super Essex Conference-Liberty last season.
Other key returning players are 5-4 senior guard Kalyx Lewis, 5-6 senior guard Chyna Chitty, 5-9 senior forward Amoyah Gilliam, 5-8 senior guard Dominique Lewis, 5-9 junior forward Dawn Flood, 5-10 sophomore forward Aliya Perkins and 5-10 sophomore forward Madison Mitchell.
Newcomers include 5-3 sophomore guard Shayna Fortfosky and 5-10 freshman guard Mya Bembry.
The Mountaineers welcome back Kalyx Lewis, who is coming off an ACL injury suffered in the first game that cost her to miss the entire season last year.
Kalyx Lewis was the team’s best defensive player, said third-year head coach Caniece Montague Williams. In her absence, Dominique Lewis (no relation to Kaylx) and Gordon stepped up to become the team’s top defenders.
The Lady Mountaineers will look to spread out the scoring.
“Offensively, we are looking to have a lot of balanced scoring because we have skilled players in every position,” said Montague Williams.
The Mountaineers will utilize their athleticism to wreak havoc on opponents.
“We are very quick in every position with certain lineups in the game, which allows us to press and have versatility on the defensive end,” Montage Williams said. “We also have six seniors, so our players have experience and hopefully will lead us to a winning season.”
The Mountaineers want to eventually move up to the American Division, which is the top division of the SEC. That means winning the SEC-Liberty Division title this year. Montage Williams also said the team hopes to reach the county championship game and advance past the first round of the state tournament.
The key is staying healthy.
“Staying healthy is very important because every player plays such an important role on the team,” Montage Williams said. “One puzzle piece missing can really throw us off as a team.
And I definitely expect to have a better record than last season for sure.”
The Mountaineers defeated Newark Tech, 63-52, in the season opener on Friday, Dec. 18, at WOHS. Burnet had 12 points; Bembry collected 10 points, 10 rebounds and five steals; Gordon contributed nine points and five steals; and Kaylx Lewis had nine points and five steals.
The assistant coaches are Meghan Colabella, Jacqueline Cruz and Christopher Evans.
The following are other upcoming games:
Dec. 28, Delaware Valley, at Cranford Tournament, 3 p.m.
Dec. 29, TBA, at Cranford Tournament