By Steve Tool
Wallowa County Chieftain
Despite the loss of three seniors from last year’s starting squad the Eagles girls are riding high with a 4-0 record and their no. 10 ranking in the state. The squad has 13 players, up from last year’s totals.
Coach Lance Homan is in his second year of leading the team. He said that giving last year’s sophomores and juniors plenty of court-time helped ease the transition into the present starting lineup, led by senior Alexis Sykora.
“We’re young for the most part because we only have one senior, but there’s still quite a bit of experience there,” Homan said. This year’s makeup is different than last year, according to Homan. He said the team missed the seniors but added that the addition of freshman true point guard Sabrina Albee, who has plenty of AAU experience and understands the game well, helped to round out the squad.
“We have a good mix of kids right now,” Homan said. “Everybody’s more comfortable because they’re not trying to figure out who’s going to bring the ball up court.”
The team’s strengths are on the inside with the return of Sykora, the team workhorse and sophomore Emma Hite, who Homan noted is not tall, but has remarkable jumping ability.
Despite the team’s youth, Homan isn’t surprised at the team’s success thus far this season. He said that the team played together a number of times over the summer, including traveling to the coast for six games against larger schools along with competing in a tournament at Molalla.
At one point the squad played 15 games in four days which made them battle-ready for this season.
“They have a will to win, they want to win and they believe that,” Homan said. “You see that when it’s late in the game, and they get tired and dig deep and come out on top. You see a lot of character in that.”
The team has a couple of under-the-radar players in the persons of sophomores Madelyn Nelson and Camille Crenshaw and junior Haley Miller, all of whom the coach expects to contribute mightily to the Eagles cause.
Homan said that fans can expect to a see a physical and athletic team this season. He noted that the team will use the press extensively after recovering from a virus that hit many of the players. The games will be fast-paced, although with Sykora on the inside, the Eagles can slow the game down to vex their opponents.
“The team has a lot of confidence, so we have lofty goals,” Homan said. “We’re hoping to get as far as we can, and it’s going to be fun.”