By ROB JONAS
When Kim Wise last coached the Bethlehem varsity girls basketball team, the Lady Eagles were playing for the 2003 state Class A championship.
Wise stepped away after Bethlehem’s loss to Copiague (Section 11) to focus on her family, but she is back to coach the Lady Eagles for the first time in 16 seasons.
“I was not actively searching for a coaching position, but the opportunity at Bethlehem opened up and the timing was right,” said Wise in an e-mail. “I am very excited that I was given the opportunity to get back on the court. I forgot how much I love coaching this level.”
The team Wise inherits from Matthew Bixby is young and has limited varsity playing experience. Guard Ava LaClair was one of the first players off the bench during Bethlehem’s run to the 2018 Section 2 Class AA finals and proved to be a clutch three-point shooter. Kiersten Murray, Caroline Wise, Langston Williams, Natalia Gibbons, Jenna Hicks and Gwen McFerran are the other players back from last year’s team.
“With a new coaching staff and all starters gone due to graduation, there are many changes occurring,” said coach Wise. “However, we expect to be competitive and continue to improve throughout the season.”
Here is a closer look at Bethlehem:
Last year’s record: 17-6
Playoff result: Lost 67-49 to Colonie in Section 2 Class AA finals
Returning starters: none
Graudated: Maggie Kirby (guard), Molly Kirby (guard), Tessa Hughes (guard), Julianna Okoniewski (forward), Karen Huang (forward)
Newcomers: Maren Louridas (guard/forward), Julia Harvey (guard), Mary Devane (forward), Kelly Maney (guard/forward), Demla Cicek (guard), Emma Black (forward)
Coach’s comment: “All players are working hard to be ready for the high level of play within the Suburban Council and our non-league schedule.”