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GI GIRLS PREVIEW: Banker hopes to take next step

By Ryan Nagelhout Niagara Gazette

GRAND ISLAND — A trip to the Far West Regionals would be an impressive season for most basketball teams, but the Grand Island girls expect to get even further this year.

“Our kids are pretty much focused on trying to build on what they accomplished last year,” Vikings coach Jenepher Banker said.

Grand Island won the Niagara Frontier League and the Section VI Class A title, but an overtime loss at the Far West Regionals left the Vikings wanting more.

This year’s team lost Mary Scherrer and Kristen Wegrzyn to graduation, but junior guard and two-time Gazette Player of the Year Kallie Banker is back and even better.

“She just tries to get better every year and I think she’s done that this summer,” Jenepher Banker said. “She just tries to work on her weaknesses and continue to be a better player.”

Banker gives the Vikings a sure-handed player with a strong shot to run the floor. With moves to spare, Banker said her daughter’s presence on the court can even help put her at ease as a coach.

“It’s nice when you have someone who can handle the ball,” Banker said. “As a coach that’s nice when you don’t have to worry about that part of the game.”

Banker is one of four returning starters for the Vikings, with forward senior Brooke DeMarco, junior guard Danielle Wegrzyn and sophomore Cassie Oursler forming a strong core to build around.

“We’ve got a lot of pieces to the puzzle if everybody stays healthy,” Banker said. “We have a point guard, we have a big kid, we have a shooter and we have an athlete. Those are nice things to have.”

Banker said she expects her team to push the tempo and knows if the supporting cast can find their roles on the team, the Vikings could go far this season. If they can live up to their own expectations, the Vikings will be playing well into the spring.

 “The kids’ expectations are very high,” Banker said. “They’re focused on the end result.”