Photo by Diane Cox
Pictured is the 2014-15 East Alton-Wood River girls' basketball team (front row, from left) Riley Wallendorff, Rebecca Renken, Anna Stangle, Rebecca Richards, Carly Campbell and Brinesha Aldridge; (back row, from left) Courtney Beneke, Kari Westbrook, Mardelia Bolden, Brandi Lacey, Abby Cathy and Emily Sabatino.
Head coach Mark Maendele, in his fifth year at East Alton-Wood River, is looking to start fresh.
Maendele and the Oilers will be in their inaugural season in the Prairie State Conference in 2014-15 after going just 5-20 in 2013-14 as an independent school.
“I’m happy with what I’ve seen so far,” Maendele said. “Things are going a bit smoother, they’re working together better and the chemistry is there. The biggest thing we need to work on is to improve our speed on the court.”
The Oilers look to seniors Brandi Lacey and Kari Westbrook to take the leadership roles, with Lacey stepping into a new position with more scoring opportunities. Westbrook has been the team spokesperson and backbone since she started her career at EA-WR. The key to the Oilers’ potential success will start with the production from Lacey and Westbrook.
The Oilers will be looking for their star scorers to step out of the shadows and speak of defense as being a team effort, too.
“I have some amazing young ladies on this team,” Maendele said. “Kari is someone I know I can count on to give 110 percent every step of the way. Brandi has the best shot in the school with the best form. I’m not just talking about the best shot on the girls’ team, I’m saying in the school. She’s happy to have more time in a shooting role this year.”
Sophomore Carly Campbell looks to take a permanent position on the Oiler varsity roster at point guard after getting significant playing time on the varsity level last year as a freshman. Junior Courtney Beneke is taking a step up to play forward to help fill the shoes left empty by Mallory Lovings, EA-WR’s leading scorer last season.
“I’m very happy with Carly’s work ethic,” Maendele said. “She showed up and worked hard all summer and sets a good example. She’s a natural leader and doesn’t mind taking charge. With Westbrook graduating at the end of this year, Carly will be a good teammate to step into that encouraging leadership role.”
The Oilers are still working to fill the fifth spot with senior Mardelia Bolden and juniors Riley Wallendorff and Becca Renken vying for the open spot.
“Our goal this season is to first win 10 games,” Maendele said. “We know that in order to have a chance to make an impact, we will have to keep our opponents score below 50. We want to be competitive in this new conference. This is a great opportunity for our senior leaders to achieve some conference recognition since they haven’t had that opportunity for their high school careers.”
The Oilers kicked their season off on Nov. 17 at the Dupo Cat Classic.
EAST ALTON-WOOD RIVER OILERS GIRLS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 22 – Dupo Tournament
Nov. 24 – at Marquette*, 7:30
Dec. 1 – at Southwestern, 7:30
Dec. 2 – vs. Greenville, 7:30
Dec. 4 – at Staunton, 7:30
Dec. 8 – at Madison, 7:30
Dec. 10 – Mount Olive*, 7:30
Dec. 11 – vs. Dupo, 7:45
Dec. 15-18 – Waterloo Gibault Tournament
Dec. 26-27, 29-30 – Carlinville Tournament
Jan. 3 – at Nokomis*, 7:30
Jan. 15 – at Carlinville, 7:30
Jan. 19 – vs. Roxana, 7:30
Jan. 22 – vs. Litchfield, 7:30
Jan. 25 – at Bunker Hill*, 7:30
Jan. 27 – at Hillsboro, 7:30
Feb. 2 – vs. Staunton, 7:30
Feb. 4 – vs. Metro East Lutheran*, 7:30
Feb. 5 – vs. Brussels, 7:30
* Denotes conference games
EA-WR OILERS GIRLS’ BASKETBALL ROSTER
Coach: Mark Maendele
Record last season: 5-20
Career record at school: N/A (5 years)
Kari Westbrook, 5-9 G-F
Brandi Lacey, 5-7 G
Mardelia Bolden, 5-10 F
Becca Richards, 5-3 G
Riley Wallendorff, 5-8 G-F
Rebecca Renken, 5-6 G
Courtney Beneke, 5-9 F
Carly Campbell, 5-5 G
Abby Cathy, 5-9 F
Emily Sabatino, 5-8 F
Brinesha Aldridge, 5-0 G
Anna Stangle, 5-2 G
A 5-9 senior, Westbrook looks to be the go-to player for the Oilers. After averaging 8.5 ppg. for East Alton-Wood River as a junior, good for second-best on the team, she is the top returning scorer in 2014-15.
Lacey, a 5-7 senior guard, was third on East Alton-Wood River in scoring in ‘13-14 with 7.6 ppg. She will look to be a strong ball handler for the Oilers this season in the back court.