SENIOR MOLLY PEARLMAN and the Cooperstown girls basketball team begin the season Dec. 9 at home against Poland.

With almost all the starters back from last year’s 7-12 team, fourth year Cooperstown girls basketball coach Mike Niles is hoping his team is in contention for a Center State Conference title this season.

The Redskins tip-off the season at home on Dec. 9 when they host Poland in a crossover contest.

“We’re a relatively small team, so rebounding is going to be the key for us,” Niles said. “If we can do a decent job on the boards we’ll be in most games.”

Niles, who won a Section Three Class C title in his first season at the helm, will rely on a trio of senior guards to lead the way this season. Emma Ryanmiller, a first team All Star last season, led Cooperstown with 13.5 points-a-game last season. “Emma is a good shooter and a natural scorer,” Niles said of Ryanmiller. “She’s a also a solid defender.”

Joining Ryanmiller in the back court will be point guard Molly Pearlman, who averaged just under 10 points-a-game and is a tenacious defender on Cooperstown’s press, Niles said. The third guard will be Holli Erkson, whom Niles described as a good defender and shooter.

“She shot close to 50 percent from the field last year,” he said. “She’s a good defender on our press and we’re hoping she scores more for us this season.”

Two more returning players, Autumn Arthurs and Katelynn Kiuber, will round out the starting line-up. Kiuber will be relied on to rebound and is an athletic player. Arthurs can play guard and forward and is a solid offensive player, Niles added.

All eight players currently on the varsity roster will see playing time this season, Niles said. Sophomores Megan Vann, Nicole Cring and Sumer Murdock will all move up to the varsity this season, and another sophomore may join them before the season is over, Niles said.

“Nicole is probably the closest thing we have to a true center,” Niles said. “Sumer, Nicole, Emma and Molly all put in a lot of time during the summer with AAU and the summer league at the Sports Center. We’re putting in a new motion offense and playing together during the summer helped them get used to it.”

Niles said to be successful, the Redskins will need to force turnovers with their variety of presses and turn them into easy baskets.

“Our league should be strong again with Sherburne-Earlville and Canastota the preseason favorites,” he said. “We need to win our home games and sweep Waterville in order to have a shot at the title. As far as sectionals go, Bishop Grimes and Utica-Notre Dame have moved to Class B, so I think we have the potential to make a run in the postseason.”

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