Seniors look to bring spark to W-M girls

Theo Tate

Elizabeth Jefferson and Kennedy Rentfro are the only seniors on the Wellsville-Middletown girls basketball team this winter. THEO TATE PHOTO

When Wellsville-Middletown seniors Elizabeth Jefferson and Kennedy Rentfro came out for the girls basketball team for the first time in November, coach Todd Cripe became a little concerned.

“They were more or less freshmen coming in because they haven’t played high school basketball before,” Cripe said.

But after a month, Jefferson and Rentfro have turned in strong efforts for the Tigers in practices and in games.

“They’ve both been super coachable,” Cripe said.

Jefferson and Rentfro are the only seniors on the W-M girls squad. They hadn’t played any basketball since they were in middle school.

“These girls have definitely given me a chance because I haven’t played in five years,” Jefferson said. “It’s been really fun. They’re really fun to be with. It’s really fun to come to practice every day and do the best that I can.”

Now, the seniors are hoping to play more games as the Tigers start their 2021 portion of their schedule. They took an 0-2 record going into their road game against Higbee on Jan. 5.

“I never would have guessed that we would be playing two games at the end of the Christmas break,” Rentfro said.

The Tigers began their season on Dec. 8 after being out for two weeks due to quarantine issues. Their home games against Montgomery County on Dec. 18 and Liberty Christian on Dec. 22 were postponed.

The W-M boys basketball team also has been having scheduling issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tigers (2-3) had three of their games postponed. They haven’t played since Dec. 8.

“It’s part of life,” Jefferson said. “You have to adapt and overcome it. We can be cancelled next week. You never know. You just have to look at the positive side of it. I came here, I worked with my team and we worked together.”

Jefferson is playing in her second sport. She competed in cross country for the first time last fall.

“Elizabeth did an amazing job with cross country this year,” Cripe said. “She’s got her future set. She’s going to the Marines. So she decided she wanted to come out. She heard about my wonderful practices, so she wanted to come out and participate this year. She has done really well.”

Jefferson said cross country and basketball are helping her get in shape for the Marines.

“Basketball is helping me enjoy things right now instead of freaking out about boot camp in eight months because it’s going to be the hardest thing I ever had to do,” she said. “Doing sports, being in high school and doing every little bit that I can really make boot camp a reality.”

Rentfro was influenced by her mother, W-M Superintendent Dr. Erin Oligschlaeger, to join the basketball team this winter.

“My mom told me I should because we didn’t have softball season and I can have that team experience in my senior year,” said Rentro, who transferred to W-M in her sophomore year.

Rentfro was planning on playing softball for the Tigers this fall before the season got cancelled after the first week of practice due to low numbers.

“I was pretty upset, especially since it was my senior year,” Rentfro said.

Rentfro scored two points in the Tigers’ season opener against Chamois on Dec. 8. Cripe said he’s pleased with the way Rentfro has been performing after a month.

“You couldn’t tell that Kennedy hasn’t picked up a basketball in four years or however long it has been,” the W-M coach said. “She’s been doing super great.”

Rentfro and Jefferson are playing for a W-M program that is preparing for the future. Besides the two seniors, the Tigers also have a combined seven freshmen and sophomores and just one junior.

“It’s pretty fun,” said Rentfro. “It’s a lot of fun supporting each other and helping each other with anything. We’re just trying to keep up the good teamwork.”



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