The Community School girls' basketball team will make the step up from a junior varsity schedule to varsity this season and second-year head coach Willy Felton is looking forward to the challenge.
"I think we will be competitive in some games," Felton, a math teacher at the Upper School, said. "We play in the most competitive division in the state at 1A, so I don't want to guess where we will finish. I would just like our team to be playing its best basketball at the end of the season and head into the playoffs with some momentum."
The Community School is part of the six-team Northside Conference, which includes defending State 1A champion Richfield, runner-up Dietrich and Carey, which placed third. Other teams are Camas County and Bliss.
Felton said he would counter his opponents' speed and athleticism by running a Princeton offense, which consists of a four guard, one forward look in which the players move through all the positions on the court on offense.
"Its advantage is that is slows the game down and limits scoring on both ends of the court," Felton said. "You depend on discipline and patience on offense. We want to play our game and not theirs."
Felton and assistant coach Erika Connelly have welcomed a squad of ten girls, consisting of four seniors, four juniors, a sophomore and freshman, to preseason practices, including last season's high scorer 5-7 guard Maggie Flood and 6-foot forward Kayla Cloud, both seniors.
"Maggie and Kayla are good leaders and they play well together," Felton said.
The other two upperclassmen are 5-8 guard Anita Vorsteveld and 5-11 forward Austen Nalen, neither of whom played last season. Juniors are returning players, 5-10 Natalie Goddard, 5-7 Chelsea Cloud, and 5-0 Freya Dickey, as well as 5-3 Julie Doan. Both new to the program are Barrett Brown, a 5-7 sophomore, and Ella Marks, a 5-8 freshman from Great Britain.
"We gave a wide range of abilities, but most of this team is in its second year of playing together, so they are used to each other," Felton said.
Last year's squad finished with record of 6-10 and lost 28-27 to Carey in the semi-finals of the Northside Conference JV tournament. Carey ended up taking the title, 27-23 over Richfield.
"It's definitely an increase of competition," Felton said. "But I think last season has definitely prepared us for this season, especially the returning players. They will be comfortable at that level."