Benshetler keeps building a bridge to success for Salisbury basketball

State notebook


March 07, 2002|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Coach Bridget Benshetler went "over the bridge" to reel in the top recruits for the Salisbury University women's basketball team, and now the Sea Gulls are going to the Sweet 16 for the first time in the NCAA Division III tournament.

"Over the [Chesapeake Bay] bridge," is Benshetler's recruiting chant, and it produced junior marvel Amy Campion, who gives Salisbury (24-4) a legitimate shot at advancing to the Final Four.

Campion is a 6-foot point guard who leads the team in scoring (18.0), rebounding (9.3) and assists (4.2).

"She's a phenomenal player," said Benshetler, who plucked Campion out of Archbishop Spalding High in Millersville. "Everything revolves around her. She gives instructions on the court to our seven freshmen, which is important to our success."

Campion is just one of six players from the west side of the bridge, with three of them being starters and four freshmen. One is a sophomore in keeping with Benshetler's youth movement.

"I actually went across two bridges to recruit players," said Benshetler. "I had some contacts from West Chester (Pa.), who hooked me up with players on the New Jersey side of the Walt Whitman bridge."

The finds on the west side of the Bay Bridge are Campion, 6-foot freshman starting forward Pam Kenney (Urbana High), starting freshman guard Gen Olds (Seton Keough), top freshman reserve Cyndi Benjamin (Catoctin High in Thurmont), reserve freshman forward Ashley Norris (Francis Scott Key) and reserve sophomore center Heather Romich (Oakland Mills).

Two players are from the Jersey side of the Walt Whitman - junior Cate Begley (Turnersville) and freshman Dana Verdi (Lawrenceville).

Benshetler is in her 12th season at Salisbury, with eight straight winning seasons. She has guided the team to three straight Capital Athletic Conference titles and five NCAA Division III tourneys.

"We love to push the ball up court and play pressure defense," said the coach. "We're not going into this game [vs. 23-6 Marymount at 8 p.m. tomorrow at Salisbury] as a wide-eyed team. We know we belong here and will win if we shoot well, adjust to the adjustments that they make and just want it more."

Two Pennsylvania teams, King's (24-3) and Scranton (25-4), play at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Salisbury.

Lights out

Johns Hopkins junior guard Jay Kreider will never forget the game he had last month against Ursinus College in a 95-63 win.

Kreider had a dream game, tying a school record with eight consecutive three-pointers for all of his 24 points. Six of the three-pointers came in the first half.

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