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USC girls excited to begin season

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Jan 17, 2021

The USC girls are ready to play basketball after having the start of the season delayed. Front row, left to right: Kelsie Chapman, Hannah Olson, Dani Kirkeide, Hannah Meyer. Back row, left to right: Macy Zebro, Maya Zebro, Lexi Johnson, Izzy O’Rourke,Josie Schumann, Coach Dale Koestler. Not pictured: Leah Winch.

Long-time United South Central girls basketball coach Dale Koestler knows he had his work cut out for him this year.

First, the start of the season was delayed until after the Christmas break. Second, he did not have a lot of girls coming out for the basketball team.

And third, he had just nine days of practice before the first game.

“We have 10 girls on our varsity squad,” coach Koestler says. “And as of today, we have eight on our B-squad. But at the first day of practice we only had five for B-squad.”

Luckily the coach has some senior leaders on the team. Hannah Olson, Dani Kirkeide and Izzy O’Rourke are all three-year letter winners.

A fourth senior is Josie Schumann.

“Josie played one season, her sophomore year,” Koestler says. “So she does not have a lot of experience. However, she is very good athlete and she will help us.”

Several juniors also lettered last year and are poised to help out the team this season. Maya Zebro, Hannah Meyer and Lexi Johnson will all have significant playing time.

Macie Zebro, Leah Wench and Elizabeth Romano round out the varsity squad.

Practice started on Jan. 4, and the team’s first game was already on Friday, Jan. 14, against Medford after only nine days of practice.

“The girls were a bit out of shape the first days of practice, after not having been in sports since basically October,” the coach says. “And they had to get used to wearing masks all the time.”

The team’s second game had been set for Saturday, Jan. 15, the very next day, but has been postponed due to COVID quarantine at Alden-Conger.

“That is probably just as well,” the Rebel mentor says. “It would be tough to play two days in row this early in the season.”

The team does hope to be able to complete all 18 games on their schedule, but the coach says that will depend on the season being cut short for any reason.

“Our record last year was not very good; two wins and 22 losses,” the coach says. “Our goal is to do better this year.”

They will be playing conference foes all season, with both home and away games with each team.

This is coach Koestler’s 33rd year of coaching girls basketball. He was at Alden for four years, took a couple of years off, coached some JV teams, but has been a varsity coach for 19 years. In fact, he was the coach when United South Central was first created.

He has a new assistant coach this year, Michael Dix, who will be doing the B-squad duties.

And, although this is one of the strangest years yet for the veteran coach, what with a late start, masks in place and limited practice time, the Rebel players and coaches are ready for the team to hit the court and play some basketball.