“Where are we?”
“Where do we want to go?”
“How do we get there?”
Those are the three questions that are driving the Park Ridge girls basketball team these days as the Owls try to qualify for the Bergen County tournament and jockey for position in the North 1, Group 1 rankings.
“We know whatâ€™s necessary,” said coach Mike Weaver, whose team needs to beat Wallington tonight to make the County tournament. “We know what we have to do. Weâ€™re patient, but thereâ€™s also a sense of urgency.”
The first thing the Owls (6-7) must do is stay healthy â€” something that has eluded them for the better part of the last two seasons. Weaver has had at least one starter out to injury or illness in eight of the 13 games, and had multiple starters sidelined five times.
The Owls had a full roster last week and beat Ridgefield and Leonia. But senior forward Nikki Kalafut went down with an ankle injury in the second half of a loss to New Milford and may miss a week.
The good news in all this is that Weaver has seven talented freshman who have been getting serious playing time in high-pressure situations. That means the Owls should have a deep bench come State tournament time.
“These girls are all playing for each other,” Weaver said. “I tell them that itâ€™s all hands on deck every night because your time can come at any time.”
If the Owls can stay healthy, they can be a factor in North 1, Group 1. Seniors Kalafut, guard Kelsey Wimmershoff (their best all-around player) and guard Michelle Turner were 51-12 as freshmen and sophomores before Park Ridge became a M*A*S*H unit.
Throw in those suddenly experienced freshmen and the raw talent of junior center Becca Skoriva, a track star averaging 14 rebounds, and this team can make its mark in a group where anything can happen. Thatâ€™s why Weaver has been using those three questions to motivate his team.
“I still think we can reach our potential,” Weaver said.