The Jamestown Community College women's basketball team had a new look last season after George Sisson took over coaching the Jayhawks after Keith Martin had been in that position for 13 seasons.
Not only was it a new team for Sisson to coach, but a new experience because all of his previous 18 years of coaching involved men's teams. But he continually said his job wasn't coaching men or women; it was simply coaching basketball.
''The only thing that was different was where are we going to have our pregame, halftime and postgame meetings,'' Sisson said since the locker room was off limits for the new coach. ''I don't think I coached any differently than with guys.''
The Jamestown Community College women’s basketball team opens its 2013-14 season in the Region 3 Crossover Classic at Corning CC on Saturday. In front, from left, are Elle Reed, Amy Sands, Taylor Storer, Kaylee Sheldon and Brook Draggett. In back are assistant coach Travis Wells, Lacey Clark, Shawana Miller, Taylor Law, Sydney Milliman, Akiah Luceus and head coach George Sisson. Absent was Corri Hannon.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
He admitted that during the first week of practice last season, ''I think I was more nervous than they were.''
But by the end of the season, the Jayhawks were 16-14 after a loss in the NJCAA Region 3 Division II semifinal game. And four of the losses were by two points or less.
Returning from that team are four sophomores - Taylor Storer, Brook Draggett, Amy Sands and Kaylee Sheldon.
Storer and Draggett, both Cassadaga Valley graduates, started every game last season.
''It's nice to have somebody that the ball can go in her hands and nobody panics,'' Sisson said about Storer, his 5-foot-2 point guard who averaged 10 points, five assists (second in Region 3 Division II) and four rebounds per game. ''It's nice for us to have a point guard back that played 36 minutes a game. It's going to allow everyone else to settle in.''
At Cassadaga Valley, Storer had to be mainly a scorer while at JCC her main responsibility was running the offense.
''I think she did a good job being a combination guard,'' Sisson said.
He added, ''She's still growing and learning.''
Draggett (5-8) averaged six points and 7 rebounds a game last season.
''Her best asset is her tenacity,'' Sisson said. ''The best basketball skill she learned last year is playing hard.''
He noted, ''Taylor and Brook demonstrate that every day.''
The other two returnees are 5-5 Sheldon and 5-6 Sands.
''Both were role players last year,'' Sisson said. ''Kaylee has good foot speed and runs the floor well. I see her playing solid defense.
''Sands has made great strides. I expect her to give us some quality minutes. She's an undersized forward, but she likes to bang.''
Headlining the seven freshmen is Sherman graduate Elle Reed (5-7), who led Section 6 in scoring with 31.2 points per game and she also recorded 11.1 rebounds and 5.7 steals. She was the Division 4 most valuable player, an All-Western New York second-team selection and was named to the state Class D second team.
''We are thrilled to have Elle,'' was Sisson's understatement. ''Anytime you have someone who has the ability to score points is a big deal for us and she can score points. We expect her to be that consistent threat from the perimeter.''
At Sherman, Reed not only scored, but she also had to bring the ball up court. Things will be different at JCC with Storer at the point.
''She has to learn to get open without the ball,'' Sisson said. ''What surprises me is she's a good ballhandler.''
And she's tough.
''She won't step off the court for anything,'' Sisson said.
Lacey Clark (5-6) played inside at Dunkirk, but will play on the wing for the Jayhawks.
''She's a better shooter than I thought,'' Sisson said. ''She handles the ball well.''
Sydney Milliman (5-8) from Chautauqua Lake is a good shooter who will be at small forward.
''She is coming out of her shell confidence-wise,'' Sisson said. ''I'm looking for her to develop her in-between game. I look for her to get stronger and stronger.''
Another Cassadaga Valley graduate on the team is 5-9 Shawana Miller.
''Shawana has some decent basketball skills for a big girl,'' Sisson said. ''We're working with her on footwork offensively.''
Taylor Law (5-8) from Silver Creek is a work in progress.
''She's working hard coming out of high school with not a lot of experience,'' Sisson said. ''You just never know what you're going to get a year from now.''
Akiah Luceus (5-7) from Brooklyn is coming off a knee injury and hasn't played for a couple of years.
''She'll play swing (small forward-forward) for me,'' Sisson said. ''She's a tough girl and isn't afraid to stick her nose in there.''
Corri Hannon (5-10) from Falconer is the newest member of the team. She just walked on and practiced for the first time on Sunday.
''She's a very strong young lady,'' Sisson said. ''I think she's going to bring some toughness and a little more athleticism down inside.''
When looking over his roster, Sisson said, ''I think we're more athletic than last year.''
And he also sees, ''Players that hate to lose.''
Lost from last season's team is Ashley DePane, who led Region 3 Division II in 3-point shooting with 33 percent and teammate Kelsie Beaver was right behind at 32 percent.
''Our team was a jump-shooting team,'' Sisson said. ''I wished I could have developed more of an inside presence. There was always that big girl on the other end who got the better of us.''
Last season ended with a disappointing loss in the regional semifinals. Fourth-seeded JCC was taking on top-seeded Erie CC and was trailing by two points in the first half when Beaver was punched and had to leave the game with a broken jaw in three places.
''I don't know if we would have won the game at Erie, but at the time of the incident we were there,'' Sisson said. ''We were doing some stuff really well.''
But more disappointing than the loss was the situation after the game when Beaver was not present for postgame meal and then later for some of the postseason functions.
''The season just didn't finish,'' Sisson said.
So he's excited to start a new one on Saturday in a tournament at Corning CC,
''I'm just looking forward to getting the season going,'' Sisson said.
And he's excited for the home opener on Nov. 6 against Pitt-Titusville.
''I love playing home games, I love playing in our gym,'' Sisson said.
2013-14 JCC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 2 - Region 3 Crossover Classic at Corning CC , noon.
Nov. 3 - Region 3 Crossover Classic at Corning CC Tournament, 3 pm.
Nov. 6 - Pitt-Titusville, 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 13 - Butler County CC, 5 p.m.
Nov. 15 - at Columbus State CC Tournament, TBA
Nov. 16 - at Columbus State CC Tournament, TBA
Nov. 20 - CC of Allegheny County, 7 p.m.
Nov. 22 - at Roxbury CC, 6 p.m.
Nov. 24 - at Bunker Hill CC, noon
Dec. 4 - at Pitt-Titusville, 5 p.m.
Dec. 6 - Tom D'Angelo Memorial Tournament: Westmoreland County CC vs. Niagara County CC, 6 p.m.; Lorain County CC vs. JCC, 8 p.m.
Dec. 7- Tom D'Angelo Memorial Tournament: Consolation, noon; championship 2 p.m.
Dec. 12 - at Butler County CC, 5 p.m.
Dec. 17 - Lakeland CC, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 7 - at Lorain County CC, 5 p.m.
Jan. 14 - Erie CC, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 16 - at Monroe CC, 6 p.m.
Jan. 23 - at Mercyhurst North East, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 28 - Niagara County CC, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 30 - Monroe CC, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 1 - at Genesee, 1 p.m.
Feb. 8 - at Erie CC, 1 p.m.
Feb. 13 - Genesee CC, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 20 - at Niagara County CC, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 22 - Mercyhurst North East, 1 p.m.
NO. NAME HT. YR. HIGH SCHOOL
4 Taylor Storer 5-2 So. Cassadaga Valley
10 Sydney Milliman 5-8Fr. Chautauqua Lake
11 Elle Reed 5-7 Fr. Sherman
20 Shawana Miller 5-9 Fr. Cassadaga Valley
21 Kaylee Sheldon 5-5 So. Panama
22 Lacey Clark 5-6 Fr. Dunkirk
24 Amy Sands 5-6 So. Sherman
30 Brook Draggett 5-8 So. Cassadaga Valley
32 Akiah Luceus 5-7 Fr. Victory Collegiate
40 Corri Hannon 5-10 Fr. Falconer
45 Taylor Law 5-8 Fr. Silver Creek