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    Girls Basketball Preview: Harvey Red Raiders

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    Experience matters and that’s why Harvey’s girls’ basketball team is optimistic about the 2023-2024 season.

    The Red Raiders return three starters and five others with varsity experience from last year’s squad that won four games.

    “At this point, the staff and I believe our team will be much improved this year,” said sixth-year head coach Jerimie Acree. “We’re young but our varsity returners gained a lot of experience last year which we believe will pay off for us. Also, we love this team’s energy and positivity that’s been demonstrated so far.”

    Acree has been impressed with how quickly his team has jelled early in the preseason and he’s confident the squad is on the right track.

    “Our team chemistry without question is a huge strength of ours this year,” he said. “I’m a believer that when a team genuinely likes and respects one another, it pays dividends both on and off the court. This team seems to always be around one another, values our team building activities and events, and I truly believe that mentality will help us be successful this season. We’re extremely athletic as well, which allows us to be multiple on defense while also dictating the pace on both sides of the floor.”

    The Red Raiders won’t be without their challenges.

    A team that won just four games last year doesn’t have a lot of momentum to build off from last season, and they’re going to be undersized in many games this season.

    Effort and intensity will go a long way in the Red Raiders overcoming that adversity.

    “The biggest challenge this year for our team will be our lack of size,” Acree said. “We’ll have to rebound by committee and anticipate misses. Lastly, at times I believe not having a strong senior influence may hinder us at times. We only have two seniors this year, which from a positive outlook, means the future is bright for us but typically when a team/program has a good number of seniors, that team/program experiences success.”

    Just one senior, Alyssia Franklin, is projected to start for Harvey this winter.

    Franklin, a 5-foot-5 guard, averaged 1.8 points and 1.4 rebounds per game last season.

    “Alyssia possesses natural skills that not everyone has,” Acree said. “Her basketball IQ, awareness, and ability to shoot the ball make our team better. We just need Alyssia to stay healthy this season and consistently contribute to the team like she’s capable of doing.”

    The Red Raiders return two starters who earned honorable mention All-Chagrin Valley Conference honors last season in Haleigh Lewis and De’Yonna Jackson.

    Lewis, a 5-foot-5 sophomore guard, averaged 3.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 2.2 steals per game last season. Jackson, a 5-foot-7 junior guard, scored 5.2 points per game and added 1.8 rebounds per contest last winter.

    “I’m expecting great things out of Haleigh this season. Her ability to get to the basket, partnered with her court vision makes her one of the best guards in our league,” Acree said. “The growth De’Yonna has shown on the court these past two years has been fun to watch. Yonna is one that can knock shots down if left open. She’s worked on her mid-range game and attacking the paint more during the offseason. Big year ahead for her.”

    Rounding out the projected starting lineup are 5-foot-6 junior guard Janel Montgomery and 5-foot-5 sophomore guard Dede Crawford.

    Montgomery scored 1.9 points and pulled down 2.6 boards last season while Crawford posted 1.9 points and 1.0 steals per game.

    “Janel is the catalyst of our program. She hustles, communicates, and plays a physical style of basketball that is infectious to our team. Janel has really worked on her offensive skill set this offseason and we believe it will pay off for her,” Acree said. “I believe Dede is the best on-the-ball defender in our league. She is tenacious on the defensive side of the floor and will often be guarding the opposing team’s best player.”

    Sophomores Bri Taylor and Jayla Holloway and freshmen Jaz Tavares Miller and Jada Blade will provide the Red Raiders with depth.

    Taylor is a 5-foot-8 forward while Holloway is a 5-foot-4 guard.

    “I’m excited to see what Bri will do for us this season. Her confidence has increased so much since last year due to her success in track and volleyball. Bri’s energy and athleticism is promising and I’m excited to witness her play this year,” Acree said. “Jayla may be the most athletic player we have on our roster. Her speed and explosiveness are special. Jayla’s primary sport is softball and that’s where most of her offseason time is spent so it’ll be a year focused on development and fundamentals for her. I’m glad to have her be a part of our program.”

    Miller is a 5-foot-4 guard and Blade is a 5-foot-9 forward.

    “What I love about this young lady is whenever the gym is opened up, she’s there. Jaz has a strong work ethic, and her teammates love to be around her. My challenge to her is to just come out of her comfort zone and play with a sense of urgency. The future is bright for this young lady,” Acree said of Miller. “I don’t know if Jada realizes how good she can actually be. Her physicality and ability to run the floor is very unique at her age. If Jada commits to improving her skill set both in season and in the offseason, she will be special.”

     

    Steve Hare
    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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