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Girls squads pick up pace with new state rule

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There’s at least one thing every Frontier League girls basketball coach can agree on — the new 10-second rule is a positive addition to the game.

The state implemented a 10-second backcourt count prior to this season, which requires an offensive team to cross halfcourt within 10 seconds once gaining control of the ball. The state’s reasoning, according to the 2013-14 handbook is: “To increase offensive scoring opportunities, reward defensive strategies and cause offensive teams to have to increase the pace of play from the back court to the front court.”

Here are 10 things to note about the 10-second rule, according to league coaches who responded to a Times poll this week.

1. The game will get faster: Coaches that like to press now have even more incentive to do so, and teams that are not prepared to break a press will need to catch up quickly.

“People are going to say it speeds up the game, and they’re right,” LaFargeville coach Colin Mingle said. “For those teams not ready to handle a press or fast break the game will seem faster.”

2. The keep-away strategy is gone: Several coaches polled said that if they had the lead and possession with under 30 seconds to play, they used to instruct their teams to stall behind half court. That is no longer an option.

3. The girls game becomes more similar to the boys: Most girls players will tell you they would prefer to play under the same rules as the boys game, and this gets them one step closer.

“I have always wanted the 10-second backcourt rule,” Indian River coach Jim Whitley said. “Anything that makes the girls game and the boys game more alike is a positive thing.”

Thousand Islands coach Pete Pettit said: “Most people watch the boys game and having similar rules might give the girls game more respect.”

4. Practice time is impacted: A majority of responding coaches said they have devoted significantly more practice time to breaking the press than in past seasons.

5. Scoring should increase: The rule would, in theory, lead to more turnovers in the backcourt and thus more quick, easy buckets. So far, the impact on scoring has been minimal as the league average is up by just 1.65 points per game.

“We always want to put high pressure on the other teams ball handlers anyway so hopefully the 10 second count will help us generate more offense,” South Lewis coach Mike Niles said.

6. It’s easier on the officials: Referees that work both boys and girls games have one less rule difference to handle.

7. The need for a reliable point guard increases: Teams without a strong primary ball handler used to overcome it by using several players to methodically pass the ball up the court. That becomes more difficult to accomplish consistently.

8. It is overdue: Several veteran coaches polled said they have wanted the rule implemented for years.

“I was excited to hear that they were finally putting the 10 second rule in for girls basketball,” Lyme coach Mark Wilson said. “I have always felt it was long overdue.”

9. It will take some getting used to: One coach said they argued for a 10-second call with the opposing team still in the backcourt 13 seconds into the shot clock. The call was eventually made.

10. Overall coaching strategy hasn’t changed much, yet: A majority of coaches polled said they have not drastically changed strategy. Those that used to press continue to do so, and those who did not have yet to put a greater emphasis on it. A few coaches believe that, in a close playoff or sectional game, teams will be more apt to press and push for a 10-second call.

LYME LIGHTING IT UP

The Lyme Indians, off to a 3-0 start, are scoring a league-high 56.3 points per games this season, 6.3 ahead of South Jefferson, which ranks second.

Through three games, Lyme’s per-game average is up 15.5, the league’s highest increase.

The Indians are the only team to eclipse 50 points in every game and the only team with three players averaging double figures.

SISTER ACT

Three of the league’s top teams thus far — Lyme (3-0), Copenhagen (3-1) and General Brown (3-2) — are being led by sister tandems.

Lyme’s Yanna and Enesa Ososkalo are averaging 21 and 14.3 points, respectively. They lead the team in scoring and rank second and fifth in the league.

Copenhagen is led by Brooke Spaulding (12.5) while her sister, Maci ranks third for the Golden Knights with 6.5.

Katie and Rhea Pitkin’s respective averages of 11.8 and 10.4 top the Lions. They rank third and fourth, respectively, in the “B” Division.

STAT SHEET

Here are a few early statistical observations from around the league: Lyme is the league’s highest-scoring team with 56.3 points per game and Thousand Islands is the stingiest defensive unit, allowing just 25 on average. South Jefferson has the best point differential (+23.5). The Spartans are the league’s only unbeaten teams… Indian River, South Jefferson and Thousand Islands lead their respective divisions in points scored and fewest points allowed… South Jefferson is the league’s top 3-point shooting team, averaging eight per game. Lyme and Indian River are tied for second with an average of five.

CARTHAGE TO HONOR METCALF

The winningest boys basketball coach in Carthage history will be honored at Saturday’s nonleague game against Massena.

Jerry Metcalf, who guided the Comets to 370 wins in 26 years as varsity coach, will be given a plaque in his honor for his years of work for the program after the completion of the JV game, which begins at 1 p.m.

Metcalf retired following the 1997-98 season, having won nine Frontier League regular-season and eight playoff titles. His 1990-94 teams won a record five consecutive league and playoff crowns.

Any former players or alumni who would like to share their thoughts at the ceremony should contact current head coach Jeff Ventiquattro (921-5431, emial jvent@carthagecsd.org) or Tom Piroli (tpiroli@carthagecsd.org).

Sportswriter Josh St.Croix covers girls basketball for the Times. He can be reached at jstcroix@wdt.net.

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