One look at the number of girls dribbling basketballs at Quinn Court at Enterprise High School, and you know girls basketball coach Mike Crawford has his hands full. Twenty-nine have signed up for the varsity and junior varsity programs this year.
“I have a lot of girls out for basketball; most of them are young,” Crawford said. “I’ve only got three seniors.”
The team boasts 12 freshmen, eight sophomores and six juniors. The team generally fields 20-22 players.
Crawford noted that although his squad is young, the girls are brimming with athleticism and size. He said the team mostly needs time to put those talents together. The Outlaw season starts early with its first game at home against Wallowa Wednesday, Nov. 28.
The tendency toward younger players results from the loss of four senior starters in each of the last two years. While he has two seniors capable of playing point guard, Crawford also needs to prepare a younger player for the slot.
“Working a younger girl into point guard is just one of the challenges I’ve got,” he said. “Even though we’ve got some carryover, we’ve got to establish some new girls just coming up to the varsity level. Playing at that level for the first time, it’s different.
The Outlaws are back in the Blue Mountain League this year. Crawford sees Grant Union High School out of John Day as a hurdle. The Prospectors placed fourth in state last year and lost only one player.
“I think they’ll be the team to beat,” Crawford said. “That being said, Heppner went to state last year, too. We’re going to have to figure ourselves out with playing teams we haven’t played in a couple of years.”
After the Wallowa contest, the Outlaws face Crane and Prairie City on the Friday and Saturday following.
“Crane is touted as one of the top teams in 1A ball, so that’s a good start,” the coach said. The preseason also has several other challenges. Leauge play starts Dec. 11 at Union.
Another challenge this year is team members becoming acquainted with each other’s style of play.
“It’s really a brand-new team. Getting that to blend together is the biggest chore we’ve got,” Crawford said.”
Crawford sees both athleticism and speed as the team qualities to make them competitive the league.
“If we can make it go together, we can make really good things happen,” he said.
Crawford likes what he sees in his new squad and expects the lady Outlaws to be contenders.
“I’ve got as good athletes an anybody,” he said. “It’ll just be how much confidence we have when we play on the floor.”