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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

New Era, Same Results For Sacred Heart Basketball

There’s a new era for Sacred Heart Academy girls basketball. The results remain the same.

Jack Coppola is the new head coach of the Sharks, who graduated four of five starters – including two current Division I college players off of last year’s roster. But the program remains just fine. Sacred Heart started the season with six wins in its first seven games and remains a contender in the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association.

“When you have the players, that makes the coach look good,” Coppola said. “We have the players, they’re young players, but they’re good. Hopefully we’ll get things going even more as the season goes on.”

Graduation hit the Sharks hard as the program lost two of its best to Division I colleges in Kathleen Ryan (Brown) and Sarah Young (St. Bonaventure).

Add in a coaching change as Coppola replaced Debbie Laux, who coached SHA for one season after serving as an assistant for 16 seasons under Sister Maria Pares, whose contract was not renewed after the 2014-15 season. But the success hasn’t skipped a beat. That was evident on Friday when Sacred Heart rolled to an unexpectedly-easy 67-42 win over upstart St. Mary’s, which entered the game undefeated.

“They are a phenomenal team; I love watching them play,” Coppola said. “So I was real proud of the girls to play such a great team game against a team that good. That’s a huge team. That’s a top-of-the-league team and we played really well against them.”

The Sharks aren’t too shabby either. Despite having just one senior on the 12-player roster, Sacred Heart opened the season at 6-1 and again looks like a contender – despite a lot of youth.

We’re a young team,” Coppola said. “And as a coach with a young team, you know you’re going to make a lot of mistakes so you have to keep your patience. It’s hard sometimes but they’re all working hard. Every game, we’re learning and getting better.”

The lone returning starter, junior forward Micaela Ryan has been a regular in double figures and led the Sharks with 27 in the early January showdown against St. Mary’s. Sophomore center Jennifer Grimm, a transfer from the recently-closed Immaculata Academy, has also been a standout for Sacred Heart.

The team’s lone senior, Alisa Schaefer, serves as the team captain.

“We play really well together,” Coppola said. “We look for each other, we do a nice job of finding each other and that really helps.”

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