PITTSFIELD -- The point guard of a basketball team is relied upon to run the offense and be its primary ball-handler.
Directing four other players, while controlling the ball and scoring is a lot to ask of a freshman. Pittsfield ninth-grader Peyton Steinman stepped into the point guard role this season, and is helping guide the girls basketball team to the top of the North Division (11-6, 7-1).
"We had some pieces in place, but Courtney McLaughlin was one of the leading scorers in the county last year," Pittsfield coach Joe Racicot said. "Losing her, it was hard to find out where those points were coming from.
"Dom [Satrape] and Lauren [Carnevale] had a lot of playing time, but once we found out Peyton was coming to our school, we knew she could handle the ball and score around the basket."
Steinman has helped stabilize the Pittsfield offense, but the Lady Generals had a lot of gelling to do in order to get to this point.
Replacing the offense of McLaughlin as well as post player Rachel Hunt was important. Finding new scorers was crucial, but Racicot said, the team’s biggest area of improvement came on the defensive end.
Early in the season, the team played strictly man-to-man, even when a zone defense might have better fit the matchup. As the season progressed and the teammates became move comfortable with each other, Racicot said he’s been able to run more zone.
"We all stepped up as a team," Carnevale said. "Peyton stepped up gigantically being our number one point guard, and we’re working together a team. As long as we stick together and don’t give up, we can win any game."
The maturity that Steinman shows as a point guard makes it easy for teammates to follow her led. The upperclassmen embraced her role as point guard, and it’s benefiting everyone.
"Last year, we had Courtney [McLaughlin] and she ran the point," Satrape said. "I was the second man to handle the ball a lot, but Peyton’s really stepped up and taken the pressure off me."
Steinman’s work ethic also makes it easy to follow her lead. Before the season, Steinman spent time working with former Pittsfield player Courtney Shepard and strength coach Nick Cavaleri to prepare for the grind of varsity basketball.
For Carnevale, Steinman’s work ethic and being friends with her off the court, allowed her to come in with a trust factor that most freshman do not have.
"Before this season, we were friends. We were close and we knew each other," Carnevale said. "It was easier to play with someone you trust already. Right off the bat you can know what their weaknesses and strengths are. With her being the point guard, it made everyone’s job easier."
Saturday’s win against Minnechaug gave the Generals 10 wins for the season and clinches a spot in the Division II Western Massachusetts tournament. They followed it up with a win over North foe Drury on Tuesday. Racicot said Western Mass. was just one of the goals his team set before the season.
"In the beginning, the goal was to make the tournament, win our division and try to go farther than we did last year," Racicot said.
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