GHS girls' basketball team focusing on skills

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Tue., Jan. 24, 2012
Griswold junior Kendall McGrath (13) tries to squeeze past Taylor McLaughlin of Bacon Academy.
Griswold junior Kendall McGrath (13) tries to squeeze past Taylor McLaughlin of Bacon Academy.

Griswold High School girls’ basketball coach Kevin Babcock says that this year’s Wolverine team is “a work in progress.” With the departure of a half dozen graduating seniors last June, and several other players not returning from last season, Babcock is facing a serious rebuilding year.

“We’re low in numbers,” Babcock said. “We only have 13 [players] and of that 13, six are freshmen.” The team’s sole senior, Samantha Rentz, “is the only one that played a lot of varsity last year.”

Add to that, a state of flux in the coaching spot. Babcock is the third varsity head coach for the Wolverine girls in as many years, taking the helm for the first time after eight years as the boys’ assistant coach. “We’re rebuilding. I’m hoping to stabilize the program. I’m planning on staying awhile,” he said.

To that end, he’s hammering away at skills: passing, screening, shooting and dribbling. “We spend an hour every practice on skills before we do anything with plays,” he said. “We’ve got to get better at it before we can get competitive.”

Backing up team captain Rentz with experience from playing junior varsity basketball are juniors Kendall McGrath and Paige Anisch. Sophomores on the team include Kristen Drobiak, Sydne Ondreika, Kaitlyn Niles and Nycole Sylvestre.

Babcock said that McGrath and Drobiak, both of whom compete in other Wolverine sports, in particular have stepped up to take leadership roles. “On the court, a lot of others contribute significantly,” he said. “What I preach to them is that we’re only as good as we are as a team, not as individuals.”

At press time, the team’s record for the season was 3-9, with eight games remaining in the regular season, and the Wolverine girls were eyeing this weekend’s contest against arch-rival Plainfield. “That’s always a big game,” said Babcock. When the two teams met earlier this season, Plainfield handed the Griswold girls a defeat by a 30-point margin, he said.

“Our goal is to win five more games and get into the [ECC] tournament,” said Babcock. “Our season is built on playing hard, having fun and getting better, and that puts importance on all the remaining games.”

Babcock, a Wisconsin native, moved to Connecticut with the Navy in 1977 and has lived in Griswold since 1981. Both his grown children attended Griswold schools; his son, Matthew, a 2002 grad, played Wolverine football and basketball. Babcock substitute-teaches at GHS one day a week, which he says “keeps me connected with the school and the kids.”

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