The Shore faces off with The Mount
PRINCESS ANNE, Maryland -
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (2-8) will host a familiar foe with a different leader and a lot of new faces on Tuesday (Dec. 19) at the William P. Hytche Athletic center when it hosts Mount St. Mary’s (2-7).
But an early Christmas gift has the coaching staff excited heading into the holidays.
Ciani Byrom (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) will return to the court for the first time since 12 games into last season when she injured her knee at North Carolina A&T State.
“We just need to see how she is going to adjust to competing after not playing for a year,” Hawks head coach Fred Batchelor said. “It’s going to be rough, but it’s good to get her back. The important thing is that she is back before the conference season to have some time to adjust. I don’t think people realize it’s different.”
Byrom missed 26 contests, while she was out with the injury.
“It’s essentially a whole season,” Batchelor said.
While Byrom’s play is a pretty big unknown at this point, The Mount presents some questions of their own.
“They are pretty deliberate in their offense,” Batchelor said. “I have been able to get an idea of what they like to do watching them on tape. But I’m not very familiar with them as far as the new coach. Even on the court, they have some returners, but a lot of the kids who played a lot for them in the past are gone.”
Maria Marchesano replaced Bryan Whitten as head coach of the Mountaineers in May 2017 and the team’s top three scorers from a season ago all graduated.
“It’s somewhat a challenge, but at the same time you get used to playing against someone,” Batchelor said. “Bryan and I had played against one another for 10 years, so as comfortable as I was with it that was a challenge too because I thought he did a great job with them and they knew us.”
Sophomore Ashlee White leads The Mount in scoring with 13 points per game, but Kayla Agentowicz (12.1) and Katrice Dickson (10.2) are close behind. Six different players are scoring at least 6.8 points per game.
“They have some smart kids,” Batchelor said. “They run a lot of offense and they do a lot of things and have a lot of options out of what they do making it difficult to defend them”
While the Hawks ease Byrom back onto the court the starting lineup will remain like it has been the last two games.
Bairesha Gill-Miles (Lexington, Kentucky), who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding despite being a freshman, will remain a starter for the third straight game, while she looks to extend a streak of double-digit scoring to seven.
Jordyn Smith (Durham, North Carolina) — a graduate transfer from Towson University — returned to the court from injury on Saturday, but will also ease her way back and come off the bench a couple more games.
JUCO transfer Dominique Walker (Bel Air, Maryland) is coming off a 17-point performance against Wesley and has been increasing her court time off the bench recently.
Junior Keyera Eaton (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), who returned to the court three games ago is beginning to show signs of getting more comfortable, scoring seven last time out.
The Hawks will play one more at home before the holidays just two days later. They host the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) on Thursday (Dec. 21) before closing out the nonconference schedule at East Carolina on Dec. 28.
“I think it’s a lot better being at home and playing two games in three days on the road,” Batchelor said. “Being at home it doesn’t hurt you playing every other day. And we have to get used to that because it’s the conference schedule. You don’t have to travel so it gives you a lot more time to rest and a lot more time to prepare.
“And it’s always good to be home during the holidays.”
Especially when you get an early present.
For more information on Eastern Shore Athletics visit http://www.easternshorehawks.com/.
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