Dave Wojeski/For the Recorder Galway's Tegan Matthews drives around Canajoharie's Jenelle Dillenbeck during a Dec. 19, 2012 game in Canajoharie.
Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Galway's Erica Chase attempts a free throw during practice Monday at Galway High School.
By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
GALWAY -- Each day, the members of the Galway Lady Eagles show up and anyone's guess is as good as any of theirs as to who will lead the club.
That's OK with Deb Wilday, the school's girls basketball coach with 280 career wins to her name.
"Our program has never been about one [person] or somebody that gets all the points," says Wilday. "We've always worked on being a total team."
That's what the Lady Eagles are this season. In 13 games this season -- Galway enters tonight's home game against Heatly with an 8-5 record -- five different players have led the team in scoring, with junior Erica Chase leading the team overall with her average of 9.2 points per game.
"Every game, we don't know who that leading scorer is going to be," Chase says.
Galway's latest game, a 48-30 triumph against St. Johnsville, was indicative of the Lady Eagles' season. In the 18-point win, 10 players scored; six players scored at least two baskets; and, Felicia Snyder led the team with a season-high 10 points, the first game this season she has led the club in scoring.
"It's a little different from last year because last season we had two or three people that really scored a lot," says senior Abby Spagnola. "This year, we can just take people off the bench and we know they're going to go in and do well."
Wilday says her philosophy has always been to play as many of her girls as possible, using an equal-opportunity offense to allow each player the chance to shine.
"They enjoy the fact that they know they're going to get an opportunity to show what they've worked on during practice," Wilday says.
"We're able to utilize everyone's skills and we're working so well as a team that so many people get to score," says senior Paige Galloway Hammond. "It's a whole team effort."
With this crop of Lady Eagles, it has been a two-year process. While there was some success for Galway last season, Wilday spent much of last year's campaign focusing on the fundamentals and teaching the game. That work helped to breed a more confident batch of players for this season, a group eager to get back to work.
"We have a lot more energy compared to last year," says senior Tegan Matthews. "Everyone is here because they love the game and want to play."
"And we work together way better than we did last year," senior Amanda Gould adds.
After tonight's game, Galway gets the chance to qualify for the Western Athletic Conference Cup, the end-of-season tournament that pits the league's top two teams from its two divisions against one another. With a win Friday against visiting Canajoharie, the Lady Eagles will wrap up a second-place finish in the WAC North and a berth in the dance.
Galway's players say qualifying for the WAC Cup has been a season-long goal, one born from wanting to keep their club together as long as possible.
"The farther we can go means the longer we can stay together as a team -- and that would mean a lot to us," Matthews says.