Getting the ball to the big players will be a big objective of the 2007-08 Wood River High School girls' varsity basketball team, which returns three of its top four scorers from last year.
Wood River debuts its 18-game season Saturday, Nov. 10, at Filer, a State 3A tournament qualifier last year. The first Wolverine home game is Wednesday, Nov. 14, against State 4A tournament entry Bonneville of Idaho Falls.
Senior 6-3 post Lauren Morgenthaler (12.7 ppg last season, 534 points three seasons) along with 5-11 senior Hannah Ward (4.3 ppg) and 5-9 junior Samantha Engel (4.1 ppg) are the returning top scorers forming Hailey's triple post offense.
"Size and experience in our front line is going to be a strength for us," said eighth-year head coach Brent Carnduff (67-88). "We should be a stronger defensive team and we have improved team speed.
"Our biggest question mark is outside shooting. Although our guards don't have a lot of experience, we're excited about their play. We should be much better at taking care of the ball. And we should be a bigger threat for dribble penetration.
"I'm excited about the team. We have high expectations."
Carnduff and his staff of assistant coaches Morgan Uhrig and Sandy Sanders and new junior varsity coach Kim Young have welcomed a turnout of 18 players—not enough to have three teams. There will be no freshman team this year.
On the 10-player varsity are three seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen. The junior varsity features two juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen.
With its potential of more balanced scoring, Wood River (4-16) will try to snap a three-season, 22-game losing streak in Great Basin Conference West action dating back to a 32-23 home victory over Jerome Dec. 9, 2004. That happened to be Wood River's first girls' basketball win over Jerome in 21 years. Also, the Wolverines have won only three of 34 road games over three seasons.
They'll have to hit some big shots to improve in those areas.
"Our outside shooting will be OK as long as our guards are able to hit the open wing shot, and we are working on it every day in practice," Carnduff said.
The Wolverine guards are 5-4 junior Allie Freund, 5-2 sophomore Alex Lindbloom, 5-2 freshman Taylor Hayes and 5-6 freshman Madison Gove. Lindbloom shared the "Most Improved" award with Engel.
Morgenthaler, a first-team All-Great Basin pick last winter and the team's Most Inspirational player, is on track to climb into the top two all-time in scoring this winter and, with 338 rebounds, could make the top five all-time on the boards.
Hannah Ward was last year's top Defensive Player. With 93 rebounds she was second to Morgenthaler (100) on the glass and Ward led the varsity in assists (47) and steals (22). She'll move into the top five all-time in assists this year.
Along with Engel (71 rebounds), Hailey's front line has 5-5 senior wing/post Tasha Karst, 6-0 junior post Hanna Gustafson and 5-10 sophomore post Monica Garceau.
League favorite should be reigning State 4A champion Burley (24-3, 46-7 two seasons), a 58-54 winner over Hillcrest of Idaho Falls in last winter's championship game. The Bobcats graduated two-time Great Basin West "Player of the Year" Jessica Brice and another key senior, McKel Baker.
Wood River also lost a big scorer in Kristen Miniard (9.1 ppg), who shot 32-of-129 from the behind the arc last winter to give the Wolverines a constant outside shooting threat.
The junior varsity has juniors Kelly Chapman and 5-8 Nicole Fisher, 5-8 sophomores Grace Lagodich and Ellen Johnson, and freshmen Taylor Gove, Brooke Bowers, 5-8 Cassi Gorringe and 5-11 Jade Glenn.