Numbers game tight as Lakers prep for new season

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Senior Lydia Swedberg is the lone member of her class on a seven-person Inter-Lakes squad this winter. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 02, 2013
MEREDITH With just seven players on the varsity roster, the margin for error will be incredibly tight for the Inter-Lakes High School girls' basketball team this season. The Lakers lost key scorers in Mikaela O'Neil and Alexandra Brewer to graduation, and with just one senior on this year's team, coach Mike Gallagher knows his squad has its work cut out for it when they open up Friday night at home against Mascoma Valley.

"We don't have very good numbers so we're going to be shorthanded," admitted Gallagher, whose team went 6-12 in Division III a season ago. "We're young and rather inexperienced, which is probably not the best combination, but the girls are also pretty athletic. We're going to have to be in shape because there's only seven of them. I'm sure we'll start out a little rough until they get used to each other. But our goal as always is to make the playoffs and hopefully we can do that."

Leading the way for the Lakers is the team's lone senior in forward/guard Lydia Swedberg. The versatile Swedberg, who is a captain, is fresh off guiding I-L to the Final Four in volleyball last month, and she saw significant time on the floor last season.

"She's going to have to help lead the team as our only senior," Gallagher said.

Junior Kylie Dickinson is also a captain, and she returns to the lineup where she's penciled in at center. Dickinson showed flashes of brilliance last year, when she dropped a line of 22 points and 15 rebounds in an overtime win over Berlin.

"She had a good year last year and we'll look inside for her. I have high hopes for her this season," Gallagher said of Dickinson.

The Lakers have two more guards back with varsity experience, as junior Kristy Brewer and sophomore Julia Eifert are back. Brewer will see time at the shooting guard slot while Eifert progressed nicely over the course of her freshman season and appears ready to take the floor general reins.

"Those four returning players are going to be called on," said Gallagher. "A big share of the game is going to be put on their shoulders. They'll be called upon to bring the other three girls along. The good thing is they'll have plenty of chances to prove themselves there are a lot of minutes up for grabs."

Junior Hailey Eldridge (guard), sophomore Kaylee Converse (guard/forward) and freshman Margaux Dickinson (guard) round out the small roster, with all three being new to the varsity squad. Dickinson has shown a lot of promise during the preseason, though learning on the job as a freshman will be very much in the cards in Meredith this winter.

"It's going to be a learning process for everyone," said Gallagher. "But it's a very intelligent, good group to coach."

The Lakers will look to their defense to lead the way this season, especially during the early portion of the season. I-L opens with games against Mascoma Valley, Berlin, Prospect Mountain, Gilford and Somersworth before the Christmas break.

"We're going to have to key on our defense, we're going to have to work on it and let our offense come along as we go," the coach explained. "Being so inexperienced and not having played together so much, we're going to have to get our defense going so we can be competitive in every game. We'll also try and push the ball a little bit, but that can be a double-edged sword only have seven players. We're going to have to keep an eye on that."

The opener with the Royals is slated for 6:30 p.m. on Friday night in Meredith.

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