RIDLEY TWP. >> Although Lauren Pellicane never retired, she enjoyed her year off from coaching high school girls basketball last winter.
The former head coach and 200-game winner at Lower Merion never quite lost the bug. And when the Haverford High position opened, Pellicane couldn’t resist the opportunity to jump back into the profession.
A former Villanova University standout, Pellicane has been a guidance counselor at Haverford for more than a decade. She knew the players and watched them endure an up-and-down 2016-17 campaign. Early in her first season at the helm, Haverford has won three of its first five contests, including a 43-18 rout of Ridley Tuesday.
“This is my 11th year as a counselor at the school and I was able to follow them a little bit last year,” Pellicane said. “It’s just a really, really good group of kids. I think that’s what really tied me in.
“Rolling right down the hallway to practice, it’s been really awesome. You can’t beat that.”
Pellicane stepped away from Lower Merion following the 2015-16 season. In January of her final season with the Aces, she reached the 200-win plateau, a significant accomplishment for any high school coach, especially since she’s only 39.
Under Pellicane’s tutelage, Lower Merion was one of the most successful basketball programs in District 1. She guided the Aces to four Central League titles, including a pair of unbeaten seasons, in addition to eight district playoff appearances. But in her final two seasons, the girls basketball team fell on tough times and Pellicane knew it was time to step away and allow someone else take over. Consequently, the Lower Merion job that Pellicane aborted went to Monique Boykins, who had previously rebuilt the Penn Wood program.
“I knew it was time,” Pellicane said. “I’m not going to lie, the year (away) was great. It’s something that I needed.”
At Haverford, Pellicane brought on board an impressive young coaching staff. Jaclyn Gantz was a 1,000-point player at Haverford before moving on to play at the University of Scranton. Katie Young scored 1,000 points and grabbed 1,000 rebounds at Neumann. She was Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) Player of the Year in 2011. Erin Knox, who is one of Pellicane’s former players at Lower Merion, is the head junior varsity coach and a special education and math teacher at Haverford. Ali Hostler is a volunteer coach and 2011 Haverford grad.
“We have a couple nice ties,” Pellicane said. “It’s a great young staff.”
Pellicane has a championship pedigree in the Central League and hopes to revive a program that has teetered around the .500 mark in recent
years. It’s hard to find many coaching free agents as qualified as Pellicane.
“We have a really good group of kids who understand their goals and are really starting to buy in,” she said. “We have a nice team-oriented group. If we can take their strengths and put them together, I think on any given night we can compete. Is it still early? Absolutely. We want to play our best basketball in February and hopefully in March. It’s one game at a time.”
Lindsey Lane is one of Haverford’s top players. The 5-10 junior excelled in Tuesday’s victory over Ridley, recording game highs in points (16) and
“It’s been amazing to have (Pellicane) as our coach,” Lane said. “All throughout, she has been so strong as a coach and I think all of the girls, including myself, feel so lucky to have her here. She has so much talent and brings so much knowledge to the team. She knows her stuff, she knows which offenses and defenses to run. She really knows how to communicate with us and she’s just absolutely amazing.”
The 5-10 Lane is a dominant low-post performer who is getting accustomed to playing at guard.
“I just transformed into a guard last year and I’m still in the works of it, trying to improve my shooting from the 3-point line,” Lane said. “I’m recovering from a broken wrist, too, so I’m working on a lot of things such as driving to the basket and getting my shot off as quickly as possible.”
Pellicane loves what she sees from Lane and Erin Doherty, a junior guard who contributed six points, 10 rebounds and three steals Tuesday.
“Lindsey had a great offseason for us and plays AAU. She’s a 5-foot-10 athlete who can do a little bit of everything,” Pellicane said.”She’s becoming one of our best defensive players who can guard on the perimeter and get rebounds. (And) she’s really starting to come along offensively.”
Freshman Lindsay Boyd paced Ridley with five points, three rebounds and two steals.
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