BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer The Middletown High School South girls basketball team will again be young, but the experience its players gained a year ago should pay dividends this winter. Coach Tom Brennan regularly employed three freshmen last season, and the Eagles started strong before ending up 9-12. “Our team kind of hit the wall in February,” Brennan said. “Going from middle school basketball to high school is a big adjustment. The competition is tougher, we play several times a week, and the season is much longer. But I think that as a team we learned a lot from last season, and we need to treat this year as a marathon, not a sprint.” The Eagles have just two seniors, Brianne Moran and Karra Cancillieri, and Brennan will be counting on them to be team leaders. Moran, who averaged 7.5 points, is the point guard, while Cancillieri is a solid defender who also gives South an inside presence. Sophomores Christina Longo, Shealyn Taggert and Brittany Hoffman will again play key roles. Longo averaged 13 points and 8.5 rebounds, and Taggert averaged 10 points and 10.1 boards. Hoffman, a guard, has a nice shooting touch and is dangerous from three-point range. Another sophomore, forward Courtney Herring, who came off the bench last year, will also see plenty of action. Brennan also welcomed back hard-working guard Michelle Whalen, who missed all of last year with an ACL injury. Whalen, a junior, likes to drive to the basket and is a solid defender. Other key players include junior point guard Lauren Sorrentino; junior forward Elizabeth Brightbill, a strong shooter who moves up from the junior varsity; sophomore guard Jenna McFarland; and freshman Shawna Hagen, a 5-11 forward. “We’re seeing a lot of positive competition in our practices, and there’s a battle going on for starting positions,” Brennan said. “We do have plenty of depth, and on any given night we could have a completely different starting lineup.” Since his team has just two seniors, Brennan believes the addition of former players Beth Britton and Lori McDermott, who serve as freshman coaches, will also help the Eagles’ younger players. Middletown South opens the season at home Dec. 17 against Manalapan. The Eagles will visit Freehold Township on Dec. 21 and return home two days later to host Mater Dei before playing in the Point Pleasant Beach Holiday Classic.