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Eisenhower girls looking forward to the season

Pictured is the 2023-24 Eisenhower girls basketball team. In the first row, from the left, are McKenna Lindemuth, Lainey Font, Lila Eckman, Laney Belcher, Amanda Gates and Alana Byrd. Standing are Clara Steinberg, Samantha Childs, Kaliann Waite, Kelley Alcorn and Morgan Zaffino.

The Eisenhower girls basketball team took some huge strides last season. First, it earned a playoff berth after winning just two games the year before and it finished the campaign with a 12-10 record, the first time in 11 years it finished above .500.

That’s why second-year coach, DJ Steinberg, is looking forward to the 2023-24 season.

“We want to get back to the playoffs,” he said. “We picked up a tough schedule, adding some 4A and 6A schools. We already play up in 3A as we are only a 2A school, but if we want to continue to improve we have to continually challenge ourselves.”

The Knights, who lost to eventual state champion Kennedy Catholic in the first round of the playoffs, return an outstanding group of sophomore starters, including All-Region Clara Steinberg, who averaged 15 points, four steals and four assists as a freshman. Steinberg is hardly alone as Eisenhower returns a pair of shooters who have proven to be deadly from 3-point range in sophomores Lainey Font and Lainey Belcher. Fellow sophomore, Samantha Childs, steps into a starting role and Coach Steinberg expects her to have an impact in the starting lineup.

“With her physicality and stubbornness in the paint, we will be relying on her to balance our youth at the guard spots,” he said. “She is a very quick, athletic power forward.”

Eisenhower lost five seniors to graduation and currently have no juniors or seniors on the roster, so their continued improvement may hinge on how quickly their bench matures to provide help to their starters.

The Knights proved they can compete with bigger schools as they were competitive against Corry and General McLane in their preseason scrimmages and their head coach knows he has a talented core group of players returning, but he is concerned about the low numbers on his roster.

“The girls have no choice but to grind,” Coach Steinberg said. “It is tough to get girls to come out and play for a program that hasn’t had much success for a number of years, so this year’s team has some pressure on them to continue the program’s improvement.”

Eisenhower has strong numbers in the elementary and junior high grades and Coach Steinberg admits the girls on this year’s team feel the pressure of carrying the program into the future.

“They do feel the pressure of not having any upperclassmen on this year’s squad,” he said. “They feel the pressure of low numbers overall on this year’s squad. They are aware that, to a point, how they do can affect the future of the program. Yet, they continue to show up and face adversity head on. I can promise that they will show up and compete at every game. It’s all they know.”

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