Northampton Press

Saturday, May 25, 2019
Press photos by Linda RothrockTaylor Kranzley and Kylie Gilliard pose with the District 11 trophy after the title game. Press photos by Linda RothrockTaylor Kranzley and Kylie Gilliard pose with the District 11 trophy after the title game.
Lindsey Nemeth was a key contributor for the girls team. Lindsey Nemeth was a key contributor for the girls team.

Kids get boost from youngsters

Thursday, March 14, 2019 by Jeff moeller Special to the Press in Sports

Northampton’s girls’ basketball team recently hit the state playoff behind a 24-4 record, one of the best in school history.

They employed their high-octane offense to gain control over Methacton and never relinquished in a 55-48 victory in the opening round of the state playoffs.

Regardless of where the Konkrete Kids finish, the trio of senior Victoria Keenan and Jenna Rogers along with sophomore Morgan Sterner has provided the bulk of the offense. Keenan is pushing past the 1,600-career point mark, and Rogers is working her way past the 1,000-point plateau. Sterner has been a steady contributor as well as a defensive maven.

Senior Gabby Demchak has been a constant force in the middle.

Yet, head coach Jeff Jacksits knows it all hasn’t been about her seniors and a budding sophomore.

The Kids have been fueled from their own fountain of youth.

“When we first started the season we didn’t know how good we could be because we had so many freshman and sophomores on our roster,” said Jacksits. “The coaching staff thought that there was a good chance we could be a team that qualified for the district playoffs, especially after winning the summer tournament. We found out early that we had something special.”

Freshmen Kylie Gilliard and Taylor Kranzley, and sophomore Lindsey Nemeth have played significant roles and made major contributions. Gilliard stepped into the starting backcourt during the summer, and Kranzley and Nemeth have rounded out the rotation.

“Taylor Kranzley was forced into starting at the point guard position due to an injury to Victoria Keenan and Kylie Gilliard had played her way into starting at the three position,” added Jacksits. “We also started sophomore Morgan Sterner and our first sub was another sophomore in Lindsey Nemeth. I think the key to our success is the fact that they earned the trust and respect from our seniors.

“The team really started to come together and we were able to put together a nice winning streak. They really started to play as if they were upper classmen and showed no real nerves before big games. Their steady play, especially Sterner and Gilliard, have enabled us to compete for a league championship (lost in final to Bethlehem Catholic) and a district championship (beat Freedom) and now playing in the PIAA state tournament.”

Jacksits admittedly had some trepidations about his younger players entering the district and state scene.

“You never know if nerves will take over with younger players,” he said. “I was a little worried about us in districts and states.

“But these girls took it in stride, and they just went out and played their game. The other freshman have been playing opposite the starters at practice and have gained valuable experience which we hope will translate into more success next year.”

Kranzley is taking in the moment.

“The season has been very successful with the EPC (East Penn Conference) and district championships,” she said. “It was a big accomplishment for me because I am only a freshman.

“Coach Jacksits believed in me. The community also has been such big supporters and we would have been able to do it without them.”

Gilliard, whose brother Tyler was a senior on the boys’ team this past winter, has watched everything come together.

“It has been like a dream come true,” she said. “We worked hard all season and I really feel like we are deserving of the opportunities that we have been given.

“I am super pumped up to compete with the best of the best, and hopefully we can come out on top. We are like a family and we know the duties we have to do to come out strong and get a lead.

“Now, it is just time to show everyone who were are.”