JOHNSTOWN — Like several area teams, the Johnstown girls’ basketball team finds itself facing a numbers crunch as it heads into the new season.
The Lady Bills have just nine players on their roster and no junior varsity team this season.
With so few players, practicing game situations has been made more difficult and it has made staying healthy the most important objective.
“If we stay healthy, we should be OK,” Johnstown coach Tim Derwin said. “It’s going to be critical for us though.”
The Lady Bills lost Abby Vandewalker, Anna Lee, Meghan Mraz, Sarah Pratt and Abby VanValkenburgh to graduation from last season’s team that went 7-0 in its shortened season. Johnstown faced Mayfield, Northville, Broadalbin-Perth and Gloversville in a Fulton County-only league due to COVID-19 protocols.
Lee left Johnstown as the Lady Bills’ all-time leading scorer and is playing at SUNY Brockport this year.
“We lost some good players,” Derwin said.
The Lady Bills have just two seniors — Kallie Ahern and Jaden Wilson — on this year’s roster.
Wilson is in her fifth season on the Johnstown varsity squad.
“This is Jaden’s fifth year on varsity,” Derwin said. “She’s been a very good player for us, and she’s one of our leaders out there this year.”
Wilson also was a key contributor to Johnstown’s run to the Class B semifinals in 2019-20. The Lady Bills lost to Mekeel Christian and finished with a 13-10 overall record.
Rounding out this year’s Johnstown roster are Abby Chest, Chelsea Johnson, Jaidyn Chest, Bella Bermas, Julieann Hisert, Yazleen Brace and Lilyan Baldwin.
“We’ve got a good core of kids,” Derwin said. “We’re going to be competitive. I think we’re going to win some games.”
To do so, Johnstown will need to avoid injury and illness with so few players on its roster.
However, Derwin said he’s not going to dwell on the number of players in his lineup.
“We’re not the only team in this boat,” he said. “It’s not good to have so few numbers, but we’ve got some good players, and we’re going to make the most of it.”
The Lady Bills scrimmaged Duanesburg on Tuesday in its first on-court action against opposition since March.
“… We did more than hold our own,” Derwin said. “Overall, it was a good scrimmage for us. We came out of it with a lot to learn and work on.”
Johnstown is scheduled to host Queensbury on Thursday in its regular-season and Foothills Council opener.
“Our goal is to get better every day,” Derwin said. “We want to improve every practice and every game.”