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TIME TO SHINE: Union Senior Hailey Theuret Eager to Take on New and Bigger Role for the Inexperienced Damsels

RIMERSBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Hailey Theuret peers around the Union gym and sees a lot of unfamiliar faces.

The senior guard on the Damsel girls basketball team is one of the few holdovers from a team that went 15-9 last season and fell in the second round of the District 9 Class A playoffs.

With turnover, though, comes opportunity.

Theuret is eager to seize hers.

(Submitted photo)

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

“I’m really excited about the season,” Theuret said. “It’s just a little rough now because the younger girls are just kind of getting into the flow of things because they’ve never played varsity basketball before. I’ve seen improvement in myself. I think I’m definitely more confident this year, just because I don’t have anyone else to rely on.”

Theuret will have to be one of the players to make up for the losses of Dominika Logue, Keira Croyle and Hailey Kriebel. A fourth starter last year, Kennedy Vogle, chose not to come out for the team this season.

That’s 38 of the 44 points per game Union averaged last season.

Theuret was the fifth starter and put up two points per game. That was her role, though — handle the ball at time, find an open player, play solid defense and score only when necessary.

Things will be much different for her in 2022-23.

“Now that Dominika is gone, I’m pretty much the main ball handler, so I’ve been working on that,” Theuret said. “I’ve been working on shooting, too. It’s surprising, but it’s easier for me to get to the rim than it is to shoot outside because I haven’t always been the best shooter. I’ll just sneak a little layup in or something.”

Theuret also will play under a new coach this season, albeit a familiar one.

Josh Meeker, who led Union to 207 wins in a 10-year run as coach that ended in 2012, is back at the helm.

“I feel like a lot of it is the same, but some is different,” Meeker said. “The practices themselves, working with the girls, that doesn’t feel any different. What’s different is I’m struggling with numbers, and I never had that in the past.”

Meeker thought he was going to have 17 players on his roster. Some left the program. Some were injured or had medical issues. Now he has just 10 heading into the season.

That makes players like Theuret a key for Meeker in his first season back after a 10-year layoff.

“I remember coaching her in the eighth grade and I saw that potential in her,” Meeker said. “She’s always been in kind of the shadow of those girls ahead of her who were so athletic and so good. But now it’s her time and that’s what I told her. We had a meeting and I said, ‘You know, this is your time to step up, not just with scoring and assists, but as a vocal leader and team leader.’ I think she’s ready to take on that role. I’m excited to see how that’s going to turn out.”

Theuret is blessed with quickness, which allows her the ability to drive to the hoop. She is also one of the best defenders on the roster.

Meeker has seen that already.

“None of the other girls want to guard her,” Meeker said, chuckling. “That’s a good thing.”

Theuret said she feels even quicker thanks to an unusual opportunity she had in the fall.

Union does not have a girls soccer program, but the school entered into a co-op with Redbank Valley for the sport. Theuret was the only Union student to play for the Bulldogs.

She surprised even herself.

Her development was rapid. By the end of the season, she had molded herself into a solid player for Redbank Valley.

“Soccer was brand new to me,” Theuret said. “And I wouldn’t say this basketball season is brand new, but there’s a lot of new things I have to adjust to. That’s why I think my experience playing soccer is helping me adjust to this year a lot quicker.”

Theuret said she and Meeker have developed a bond and a rapid understanding.

“We don’t have set plays. It’s a lot of cutting and moving and looking for the open player and open shot or drive,” Theuret said. “That fits my style better.”

Theuret said that no matter what happens this basketball season — after all, Union is breaking in four new starters — she is ready for whatever challenge arises.

Meeker is also eager to see how his very inexperienced team performs.

There is some intriguing talent surrounding Theuret. Meeker is high on Cheyenne Dowling, Katie Gezik and Ava Stauser and he hopes to get promising guard Kya Wetzel back at the end of December after she underwent major surgery for a medical issue.

“The girls have been working really hard,” Meeker said. “We’ve been doing the best we can with low numbers. It’s hard because its a sport where you need 10 girls just to go five-on-five. There’s been a few times that we’ve gone four-on-four in practice. I’m proud of the girls. I do think the girls can step up and do well.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.