Jefferson-Morgan girls basketball coach Dawn Spence remembers her playing days at Albert Gallatin.
“I had some really good teammates, like Loui Hall, Katie Kelly, Marissa Gudac,” Spence said. “I played under Ann Capozzi.”
Spence was a great player herself, who as a center helped the Lady Colonials win back-to-back section titles under Capozzi in 2000 and 2001 when the team had a combined 42-12 overall record and 22-2 section mark.
The situation at J-M isn’t quite so bright. With the season just over a week away Spence still only had a six-player roster.
“There is a chance that more girls will come out,” said the second-year coach. “I hope we will have more.”
If Spence can get the bodies, chances are she can get J-M back on the right track.
During a five-year run as AG’s girls basketball coach from 2009 to 2014, Spence’s team gradually improved from one win her first season to two, then seven and then 11 her fourth year when she guided the Lady Colonials into the WPIAL playoffs.
With so few players, Spence’s job isn’t easy, but she’s trying to deal with the situation.
“Honestly, we can just do the best we can and have fun with it,” she said.
Spence’s roster includes two returning starters in senior center Bryn Boyd and junior forward Autumn Gustovich. Senior Abby Nelson is a forward and senior Maddie VanDivner plays guard. Savannah Clark and Maddie Reeves are also guards.
“Bryn will play underneath the basket for us,” said Spence, who singled Boyd out as the team leader. “She’s been stepping up. She’s really trying to get the girls we have going, trying to push them.”
Spence lauded Nelson for her dedication, while she noted Gustovich will be counted on for her experience.
“We’re going to need her to step up a lot,” Spence said.
Spence admits practices are very difficult with so few bodies.
“You can’t really do much of anything when there’s only four or five in the gym at a time,” she said. “It’s hard to judge the speed of the game and your timing on plays. You just go back to the basics and go over fundamentals.”
Spence, who played college basketball at Seton Hill, is assisted by Lisa Olsen.