The future looks promising for the ACIT girls basketball team.
The present doesn't look that bad either.
The Red Hawks are young - there are no seniors on the roster - but talented. Former Oakcrest coach Jason Vander Ryk took over the program last April. ACIT finished 2-21 last season.
"I think we're going to surprise some teams," Vander Ryk said. "We've got girls who are committed. They're going to play hard. They're going to make mistakes, but they're going to learn."
Guard Yasmeen Nelson is only a sophomore but is one of the team's leaders. She can penetrate defenses to create shots for herself and teammates.
"She runs the offense," Vander Ryk said. "To me, she's like a senior. To have her for three more years is a blessing. The girls really look up to her. They believe in her. She's the coach on the floor."
The Red Hawks also have good size with 5-foot-10 sophomores Tamia Taylor and Courtney Hartman and 6-0 freshmen Jade Middleton and Alex Herod.
Junior forward Amber Lombardi also provides leadership.
"She's solid," Vander Ryk said. "She knows the game."
Vander Ryk said the Red Hawks are enthusiastic.
"We're ready to go," he said. "The girls want this. I want this. We're ready to play."
Contact Michael McGarry:
League: Cape-Atlantic League United Division
Group: South Jersey Group II
Coach: Jason Vander Ryk (first seasons at ACIT)
2012-13 record: 2-21
2013-14 prediction: Rebuilding – The Red Hawks appear to be headed in the right direction with a young talented team.
Key players: Jade Middleton, Fr, 6-0, F; Alex Herod, Fr., 6-0, F; Tamia Taylor, So., 5-10, F; Amber Lombardi, Jr., 5-7, F; Yasmeen Nelson, So., 5-5, G; Duke James, So., 5-6, G; Courtney Hartman, So., 5-10, F.