They're getting a rough introduction to not only playing varsity basketball, but playing varsity basketball at the tougher 4A level.
So signs of progress are coming slowly for the Wood River High School girls' varsity basketball team—but improvements are there, chiefly because "the girls work very hard," according to coach Brent Carnduff.
Tuesday night, Wood River continued to have loads of trouble with full-court pressure, and the visiting Hillcrest Knights capitalized for a 59-36 non-conference victory at the high school gym in Hailey.
But Carnduff was encouraged by the way the Wolverine offense (11 assists) picked up. Wood River attacked the Hillcrest zone defense well, looking for passes to its forwards and post players. And the Wolverines started taking shots when open.
He was pleased with a couple of confidence-building efforts by senior co-captain Laura Johnson (a game-high 15 points, 5 rebounds) and 6-1 freshman post Lauren Morgenthaler (10 points, 4 rebounds).
Wood River also out-rebounded Hillcrest 26-23, in part because the Knights offense revolved so much around the 3-pointer. Hillcrest made six 3-pointers and took about 25.
"It's baby steps, but our leaders are having to become veterans quickly," said Carnduff, referring to the fact that only senior Syringa Stark has logged substantial varsity time.
He added, "If we could every get four practices in a row, we'd start to learn what we should be doing out there. We are still having a lot of trouble with the press."
Hillcrest's full-court trapping press caused Wood River to make 20 turnovers in the first half alone. Hillcrest's outside shooting heated up in the second quarter when the Knights outscored Wood River 26-10. The half-time score was 38-16, Hillcrest.
In the second half Hillcrest pulled off its press and started substituting more frequently. The teams played evenly in the third and fourth quarters—Laura Johnson tallying 9 of Wood River's 13 points in the third and Morgenthaler 6 in the fourth.
The extra effort paid off. Wood River more than doubled its number of successful field goals (15) compared to its 50-28 loss to Century Nov. 12.
Wood River (6-for-9) continued its strong free throw shooting with Johnson hitting 5-of-6. The Wolverines have shot 20-of-31 (65%) their first two games from the home stripe.
Jamie Stone added a team-high 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Syringa Stark had a solid all-around game with 6 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Alexa Alberdi chipped in 4 points and 3 rebounds. Jackie Safran had 1 point.
Hillcrest junior guard Hailey Murri (15 points, three 3-pointers) led the way for the Knights (2-0) followed by senior point guard Brandy Herrera (12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 assists) and senior post Whitney Woodland (11 points, 7 rebounds).
Earlier Tuesday, Hillcrest defeated Wood River's junior varsity 54-17.
The Wolverines (0-2) travel to play Bonneville in Idaho Falls tonight, Friday. Next Wolverine home game is Wednesday, Dec. 1 against Blackfoot.