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Mehlville girls seeking success on the court

When a star player graduates from high school, it's a common assumption that the team left behind almost certainly will struggle.

But that shouldn't be the case this season for the Mehlville Senior High School girls' basketball team.

"I think that we're pretty talented and we'll play good defense," Panther head coach Ed Feibig told the Call. "I think that our overall team speed is better and we're stronger at the post and the guard position.

Depth is going to be the key to Mehlville's success this season on the court as the Panthers replace Dionn Jackson, who averaged 17.5 points and 5.2 rebounds a game last season. The Panthers return seven players from last year's roster.

Sophomore forward Michelle Senf is the team's top returning scoring threat from last season as she averaged 8.5 points a game, while pulling down 228 rebounds, blocking 24 shots and recording 57 steals. Feibig already likes what he sees in the sophomore in just preseason practice scrimmages.

"As a freshman, she had 222 points and 228 rebounds, and that's not too bad," Feibig said. "In practice, she's just been dynamite."

Senior guards Carissa Pratt and Valerie Pappademos also will provide some offensive firepower for the Panthers, while having a strong leadership role on this year's team. Pratt averaged 6.9 points a game last year, while draining 33 three-point field goals.

"In the last two years, Carissa's had 81 three-pointers," Feibig said. "She flat out shoots it from the outside and also has good ball skills."

Pappademos quickly is emerging as one of the top point guards in the area this season after averaging 2.7 points a game.

"Valerie handles the ball and sees the floor very well," Feibig said. "As point guards go, she's going to be in the top 10 in the area."

Feibig also is looking for senior forward Jerica Gordon and guard Katie Walsh to provide a solid foundation on which this year's team is to be built.

"Jerica's got a great three-point shot and can play inside and outside," he said. "Katie's as tough as nails and works really hard. She does a really good job at boxing out which lets her pull down some rebounds."

The Panthers' head coach also is looking for big things to come from juniors Rachael Heet and Alana Wertz.

"Rachel's been playing just great and has matured a lot," Feibig said. "Alana's been shooting about 80 to 90 percent better than last year. She's become a strong, aggressive and good rebounder."

Feibig also expects freshman twins Alyse and Kayla Gordon to make an immediate impact on this year's team.

"When you see them play, you're going to think that they're juniors," Feibig asserted. "They're fast, run the floor and can shoot the three."

The Panthers open the 2003-2004 season Monday, Dec. 1 in the South Side Classic. Mehlville is slated to play St. Elizabeth's at 5:30 p.m. in Oakville Senior High School's Gym B.

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