By GREG KEIM email@example.com
---- — GOSHEN — You don’t replace a player of Aimee Swihart’s ability on the Goshen High School girls basketball team, but a player like senior Deja Felder showcased the fact Tuesday night that she is capable of picking up some of the slack.
Felder tossed in a game-high 20 points to go with nine rebounds, five assists and six steals as the Redskins opened the season with a 42-32 win over the visiting Lakeland Lakers.
“This is the starting point,” Goshen coach Lenny Krebs said. “We talked in the locker room before the game that this would give us an idea of where we were. I can’t fault the girls effort, but there were times when we didn’t play smart.
“On top of it being the first game without Aimee we also played without junior Yadira Cabrales and sophomore Olivia Love who are both out with injuries.”
Goshen (1-0) travels to Bremen Saturday night.
The Lakers trailed 27-12 at halftime before outscoring the Redskins 14-7 in the third period.
“I liked the way we played in the third quarter,” Lakeland coach Sheila Moore said. “We got our feet underneath us a little more and we started to defend No. 23 (Felder) better. We kept the ball out of her hands.
“We settled down in the third and if we had hit a big shot or a couple of free throws we were right back in this game.”
Lakeland took a 2-0 lead at 6:28 of the first quarter on a basket by senior Carlee Richardson. The Redskins tied the score when senior Christina Gipson converted a layup after making a steal and took the lead on a basket by junior Kayci Troyer at 5:17. Junior Rebecca Levitz tied the score at 4-4 with a basket only to have Felder drill a 3-pointer to give the Redskins the lead for good.
“Deja did a nice job. She made a lot of things happen,” Krebs said.
Due in part to the injuries Goshen had two freshmen play considerable minutes. Ashton Ellis started a guard and Aylissa Trosper came off the bench. Ellis finished with two points, three rebounds, an assist and three steals and Trosper nine points, three rebounds and an assist.
Ashton Ellis is the coach’s daughter.
“She knows how to play the game the right way,” Krebs said. “What she needs to do is relax and let them game come to her. It’s a big step from 8th grade to the varsity. She needs to understand the things she can do well and if that is handling the ball and getting us into our offense then that is what she needs to do. Tonight was a first step for her.
“Aylissa showed she can give us a spark off the bench. She has worked hard on her defense and has come a long way since last year.
“I was pleased with the way the freshmen played. Looking back at it I’m not sure we realized how much we depended on Aimee in situations like this.”
Junior Leslie Vanlandingham netted four points for Goshen, Troyer three and senior Jessica DeStefano two.
Junior Amy Thompson netted nine points and Richardson six to lead the Lakers.
“Tonight was a first step. Our goal is to be playing our best basketball by February,” Krebs said. “The injuries have left some kids playing riles that they are not used to. We are going to have to be a little patient with some of them.”
Goshen was a 34-22 JV winner.