Niagara Juel will be super fast and high scoring
Thea Lawson is a big fan of the Juel basketball format.
The Grade 12 student at Notre Dame has been playing Juel Prep and Juel since Grade 9 and this season she will be suiting up with the Niagara Juel program.
“It is amazing program,” the 17-year-old Welland native said. “It is very fun, everyone is kind and it is a great environment.”
Lawson and her teammates are practising once a week at the Pelham Community Centre and the practices will ramp once the high school season ends sometime in October.
She is thrilled to be back on the court.
“I’m so excited to come to every practice, to get back in shape and be able to play basketball again.”
Not that she ever took basketball for granted but the COVID-19 pandemic had made her appreciate basketball even more.
“Before it was just going to basketball but now it is actually being able to go out and being able to play with my friends.”
Lawson is optimistic about the Niagara Juel team’s chances this season.
“I think we look good and we have chance of making it somewhere this year.”
Joining Lawson on the roster are Ally Sentance, Lucy Whaling, Brookelyn Keltos, Ella O’Connor, Sarah Hurley, Hannah Bourdon, Bianca Sestili, Kaitlyn Brophy, Jamie Addy, Yemi Oladipo and Emma Hemphill.
“I have been watching these kids play for years and it is fun to watch them as Grade 11s and 12s now,” head coach Frank Keltos said. “It is exciting to see who wants to be that next star from Niagara.”
Keltos is returning as head coach and he will be assisted by Sue Sentance and Lexy Parkin.
“Getting back in the gym is awesome,” he said. “The girls have been great and very receptive. The girls are pumped and the energy has been high.”
Like Lawson, Keltos has high hopes for the season.
“I think that we are going to be really good,” he said. “We are small but we are super fast and we will be able to score a lot because we have a ton of scorers.”
Keltos is take a slow and steady approach to the training.
“Right now, we are getting them in the gym and trying to get their bodies ready for that physicality,” he said, adding most high school teams practice twice or three times a week.
“They need that extra rep a week but we are not doing anything super physical to make sure we are not overdoing it in regards to double dipping.”
This year, Niagara Juel is the only Juel squad team playing out of Niagara and Alexis Wright has joined the team from the Niagara Girls Basketball Academy.
“I have always like her as a player and I told her that I always wanted to coach her,” Keltos said. “It was nice that she came over and I think she enjoys our practices and mine and the team’s personality of run and gun.”
Another key cog with the team will be Ally Sentance, who came back for her 12 season to play with Lincoln Prep in the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association.
“She has played Juel since Grade 8 and she plans to get in her last season of Juel,” Keltos said.
Ally’s mother, Sue Sentance, is a nice add to Keltos’ staff. She was previously the coach of the Niagara Juel Prep squad.
“I like watching stuff from a certain angle and sometimes you don’t see stuff and she is able to step in,” Keltos said.
Parkin will also be a valuable asset.
“She is a kid who played through the (St. Catharines) Rebels system and she knows the game,” Keltos said. “She knows the intensity you need to play at a high level and I am hoping to build her into being one of our next coaches in Niagara.”