It has been a small sample size so far, but South Park girls' basketball coach Reggie Wells thinks his team has a chance to be better than last season's Eagles.
And that is saying something.
Last season the Eagles went 24-4, won the Section 4-AAA title, reached the WPIAL finals and PIAA quarterfinals.
With junior forward Halie Torris and senior guard Shelby Lindsay both returning as starters and joining explosive freshman Allison McGrath, the Eagles have the look of one of the top teams in the WPIAL and so far they are playing like it.
South Park has opened the year with six consecutive wins, the first three against Class AAAA teams -- Woodland Hills, Bethel Park and Butler Area.
"[Defeating three Quad-A teams] gave us a lot of confidence early on," Wells said. "We know they are not the teams they are going to be later on and hopefully we are going to be better, also.
South Park (6-0, 3-0) then opened section play with a 39-30 win at South Fayette followed by an easy 71-35 conquest of Quaker Valley.
"For some reason we usually have a tough game at South Fayette," Wells said. "They know us pretty well. We didn't move the ball too well and we shot horribly but I am glad we got through it. We will take it."
The Eagles won their second consecutive outright section title last year in Section 4-AAA. This year they have moved to Section 5-AAA where they will compete against Montour, South Fayette, Keystone Oaks, Moon Area, Quaker Valley and Trinity.
Last season Lindsay averaged 15 points per game and Torris 14. Through five games this season both were averaging more than 17 points per game and more than 10 rebounds per game.
A lot of the reason why Wells believes this South Park team could be better than last year's group is the way Lindsay is playing.
"This is the best she has ever played," Wells said. "She is more relaxed, she is taking the shot that she has. In the past she would try to force a little more. Now she is letting the game come to her."
With Lindsay at guard and Torris at forward, the Eagles have one of the best inside-outside combinations in the WPIAL. Torris had a season-high 25 points against Butler.
"With her size and shooting ability, the sky is the limit for Halie," Wells said. "She is a great rebounder, she really does everything for us."
McGrath is making an impact immediately as a ninth-grader for the Eagles. She scored 15 points in the win against Butler.
"She is very explosive," Wells said. "It is just a matter of time until everything falls into place for her. There is really no holding her back. She really gives us a major advantage."
Sophomore Sam Miller and junior Amanda Quinn are the starting guards. Senior Bre Raymond is one of the first players off the bench for South Park, she saw significant playing time last season.
"Seeing what we did last year, we feel that we can be a stronger team this year," Wells said. "We are missing some key parts from last year but we are a little bit of a different team, we just have to figure some things out. We have an opportunity to be better than last year."
South Park heads to Orlando, Florida to compete in a holiday tournament starting today. It will be in one of the most difficult brackets, playing state quarterfinalists from around the country. The Eagles should fit right in.hsbasketball