With injured knees making several key players unavailable, the Cougars will rely on a strong returning senior class and a skilled sophomore point guard as they vie for an eighth-straight playoff appearance.
Entering the season, the Canby girls basketball team is weak in the knees.
Two players whom coach Brooke Cates expected to make key contributions are out for the year with anterior cruciate ligament injuries, and one of the programs most skilled scorers will start the 2013-14 campaign on the sideline as she recovers from a sprain.
Obviously, Cates said, its not how she was hoping to start her second season at the helm.
The other end of that is you go with what you have, and we have a good core of seniors, Cates said. We are way, way, way further ahead than we were at this point last year. Just getting that first year under our belt was huge.
Despite their injuries, the Cougars will attempt to build on a first year under Cates in which they finished with a 12-11 overall record, a 5-5 mark in conference play and a tie for third place in the Three Rivers League standings.
Canby will also try to extend its streak of seven-consecutive playoff appearances. But the program has not won a playoff game since 2007, falling to Roseburg in the first round of the Class 6A bracket last season.
Cates hopes her six seniors can do something to change that. Ashley Evans, Bailey Raines and Morgan Meisenheimer provide varsity experience at the wing positions, while fellow returners Taylor Lee, Rachel Erbe and Neila Kuznetsov bolster the teams front line.
Lee tore her ACL as a freshman and will miss the beginning of the season which arrives Dec. 6 with a tournament in South Eugene to recover from a knee sprain.
But Lee and her teammates are now accustomed to the changes they went through last year with Cates, who replaced Heather Roberts.
Theyve played a lot of year-round basketball, but theres something that happens between junior year and senior year, Cates said. Theres a maturity that happens. Thats going to really benefit us.
Sophomore point guard Skylee Doman, who will also play a key role, is primed for another strong season after showcasing her potential as a freshman last year. She scored a team-high 15 points in the Cougars play-in win over Salem-McKay.
Cates said shes also looking forward to a solid year for Raines, a talented shooter and defender whose time on the court took a hit last year due to issues with asthma.
She has come back much healthier, Cates said. She seems like shes in a good place right now. Shes tremendously athletic.
Canby junior Taylor Jorgensen could also make her way into the rotation.
The Cougars lost just two players to graduation guard Madison Lear and forward Madison Westerberg but they come into the season with other voids.
Cates daughter, freshman Cianne Cates, tore her ACL during the fall soccer season.
She probably wouldve been a starter, the coach said. That was a huge hit. That was a little bit of a gulp.
Another potential contributor, sophomore wing Lindsey Wujek, sustained an ACL injury during the teams summer-league season.
She definitely wouldve been in the mix, Cates said.
Standout soccer players Olivia Baggerly and Chloe Bell, whose athleticism helped the Cougars last year, did not return to the hardwood this season.
Still, Cates is eager to see how her team fares during in a challenging preseason slate that includes a rematch against Roseburg at home Dec. 13. League play will start Jan. 17 at Lake Oswego.
Last year, the TRL produced two state quarterfinals in Oregon City and Clackamas.
We play in 6A in the best league in the state, and thats exactly where we want to be, Cates said. We want to play the best of the best. We have a tough preseason, too. And we may take a few bumps along the way, but I think in the long run thats going to help us.
AT A GLANCE
CANBY GIRLS BASKETBALL 2013-14
Coach: Brooke Cates (second year)
Last year: 12-11 (5-5 in the TRL); lost to Roseburg in the first round of the playoffs
Key players: Ashley Evans, Skylee Doman, Bailey Raines, Taylor Lee
Key losses: Madison Lear, Madison Westerberg
First home game: 7 p.m. Dec. 13 vs. Roseburg
Outlook: In the face of several key knee injuries, Canby will rely on returning seniors and sophomore point guard Skylee Doman as it seeks the program's eight-straight playoff appearance and first playoff win since 2007.
SCHEDULE12/4 Wilsonville jamboree 6 p.m.
12/6 So. Eugene tournament 6 p.m.
12/7 So. Eugene tournament 1 p.m.
12/10 St. Marys Academy 7 p.m.
12/13 ROSEBURG 7 p.m.
12/20 South Salem tournament TBD
12/21 South Salem tournament TBD
1/3 SILVERTON 7 p.m.
1/7 Westview 7:15 p.m.
1/10 MILWAUKIE 7 p.m.
1/14 Grant 7:30 p.m.
1/17 Lake Oswego * 6 p.m.
1/24 Oregon City * 6 p.m.
1/28 LAKERIDGE * 6 p.m.
1/31 WEST LINN * 6 p.m.
2/4 Clackamas * 6 p.m.
2/11 LAKE OSWEGO * 6 p.m.
2/14 OREGON CITY * 6 p.m.
2/18 Lakeridge * 6 p.m.
2/21 West Linn * 6 p.m.
2/25 CLACKAMAS * 6 p.m.