Niagara Gazette —
Things are looking up for the Niagara Catholic girls basketball team.
The Patriots, who finished third of four teams in the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association South Division last year, boast an early 3-2 record. They won the Park Tournament as a late entry, beating Park and Buffalo Seminary in the tourney, both teams they'd lost to last season.
All this, and there's still room for improvement on a team that has only two seniors.
"The biggest thing I've noticed this year is that this is a very teachable group," coach Larry Puzan said. "They learn quickly. They have the ability to grasp basketball.
"I've had smart kids, but that doesn't make you smart when it comes to basketball. These kids are athletes and they know the game. We're going to make freshman mistakes — that comes with a young team — but they're learning as they see things."
Leading the way for the Patriots will be senior returnee Danielle DeVole, a 6-foot center. She's been on the team for four years, and Puzan said she'll play a crucial leadership role, as well as serving as the team's top scoring option.
"She's done a nice job of stepping into (a leadership role)," Puzan said. "You can really tell in her maturity and growth. She can score, too. We've had nice scoring balance this year so far, but she's definitely one of the focal points for us offensively and defensively."
Joining DeVole in the starting lineup will be junior forwards Christina Schulte and Marissa Ruffolo, and a set of twins at the guard spots in freshmen Marina and Marissa Campbell.
The Patriots will go six-deep on the bench, led by sophomore transfers Jerastaysia Briggs (Niagara Falls) and Lakiya Beswick (Niagara-Wheatfield).