After making it to the finals last year, the West Deptford girls' basketball team is looking forward to the Holiday Hoops Tournament, which comes with one big bonus this year—homefield advantage. With the host of the tournament rotating between the four teams each year, it is now the Eagles' turn.
Starting Thursday, Dec. 27, the tournament opens in the high school gymnasium at 1 p.m. with Gloucester Catholic squaring off against Sterling. West Deptford will participate in the second game at 3 p.m., against Cherry Hill East.
The tournament will resume the following day with the consolation game kicking off at 1 p.m., followed by the championship game at 3 p.m. Trophies will be awarded to first and second place in the tournament.
Head coach Casey Heitman says her girls are excited to play in the tournament, particularly because all of the teams participating are such strong squads.
“I think playing all the teams is going to be a challenge,” says Heitman.
West Deptford’s first round opponent—Cherry Hill East—is currently 1-2, coming off of a loss against Cherokee. However, so is West Deptford, who is also 1-2 and lost to Woodbury 35-23, at last Thursday’s away game.
“We have a very different team this year than we had last year,” says Heitman, who was an assistant coach for girls' basketball last year.
This has been a rebuilding year for the girls basketball team after Megan Kirschling, Danielle McKeown, and Tarryn Bundy all graduated last year. In addition, senior and last season starter Megan Knoblock also left to work on track for college.
With four starters gone at the beginning of the season and an injured guard, the team has five new starters in total.
“I’m curious to see how it goes,” says Heitman. “They're all really good teams.”
Heitman says with a strong defense, the biggest challenge for the girls this season is scoring. With the new girls stepping into scoring roles, Heitman says putting points on the board is essential in order for the team to walk away as tournament champion.
One thing's for certain—Heitman says the girls are excited to host the tournament on their turf this year.
Last year, West Deptford placed second in the tournament, which was held at Sterling High School. The girls lost to Gloucester Catholic by five points in the final game. Even without the tournament championship title, former basketball coach J McKeown, commended his girls for making significant strides from the prior year—in which Gloucester Catholic beat West Deptford 61- 30 in the opening game.