By Will LeBlond
Under second-year head coach Jeff Gorsky, the Ithaca High Girls Basketball team is starting to blossom.
The Little Red, who have tons of youth on their roster with 10 sophomores, one 8th grader, and two seniors, have gotten off to a 5-7 start this winter, but it’s not for a lack of effort.
“The kids have been playing hard for us,” said Gorsky. “But sometimes we’re still struggling to put the ball in the bucket.”
With a sometimes struggling offense at one end of the floor, Gorsky’s Little Red has hung their hat on defensive consistency so far this year while playing in one of the toughest divisions in all of the Empire State. With NCAA Division I recruits all over the STAC West with the likes of Elmira, Binghamton, and Horseheads, Ithaca’s young core has been developing against tough competition.
“I think our youth can be a reason why that offensive inconsistency shows up,” said Gorsky. “Some nights we’ll shoot great and other times we’ll be less consistent. But the effort is there and the kids are working hard.”
This is the same Ithaca team that went 8-13 last year in Gorsky’s first year as head coach after he was a coach on the JV before that. With plenty of familiar faces on his roster, including his daughter Graceann, he’s hoping to keep on developing his young core.
“We’re just continuing to try and teach the game,” said Gorsky. “We want to get them to make sure they understand the game, what defenses are doing against us and trying to combat that as well.”
The year got off to a pleasant start for Ithaca this year. They took part in the Owego Invitational and had a comeback win against state-ranked in Class C Moravia before they topped the hosts in the title game. Aside from those wins to start the year, Ithaca has been able to hang tough with some great competition, including Elmira, who has been ranked near the top of state in Class AA.
“It was a nice way to kick off the season,” said Gorsky. “Those were certainly exciting games and exciting times for us.”
Now, Ithaca has transitioned their focus to the rest of the season. With just a few weeks left on the regular season schedule, Gorsky and the Little Red want to give a proper sendoff to their seniors. The Little Red was knocked off by Elmira in the sectional semifinals last season, but the goal was still achieved.
“Our big goal last year was to get to sectionals,” said Gorsky on his first year as head coach. “Coming into this year, with the youth of the team, our goal is to try and get to sectionals again.”
With five wins entering play on Jan. 25, Ithaca was in need of three more victories to qualify for postseason play. A few more good challenges are on the schedule to close out the regular season and a trio of wins could mean a lot for Ithaca down the road.
“We’d also love to get our sophomores and the 8th grader a little more experience in sectional play,” said Gorsky. “And then we can look forward to their junior and senior years and hopefully we can have some great success there.”
The Little Red will close out the home portion of their regular season schedule on Feb. 5 when they will welcome in Elmira to Bliss Gymnasium.