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Youth movement

After graduating eight seniors, the Rangers will turn to senior Sierra Smith and junior Madison Haga
by: Loren Nibbe Madison Haga is one of just two returning contributors to the Rangers this season.

Coming off a third-place finish in the Tri-Valley league, the Estacada girls basketball team is filled with new faces.

The Rangers finished last season with a 10-12 record, including a 5-5 league record, but that team featured eight seniors who have graduated. To compound the challenge, the team is led by new coach Jon Erickson, who is filling in on an interim basis for Nicholas Lupo.

Among the key departures from last season's team are Jordan and Megan Feldman, both of whom earned all-league honors and are now playing at Clackamas Community College. The worst part about losing the Feldmans is that both girls were over 6 feet tall, leaving the Rangers with very little size.

The team does return two players who saw significant minutes last season in senior Sierra Smith and junior Madison Haga.

While both girls are primarily guards, Smith possesses a versatile game that allows her to post-up down low despite being just 5-foot-9.

'We have a really good outlook this season,' Erickson said. 'Our offensive game will be different without the size this year, so we'll be more guard oriented.'

The team already has played in a few pre-season games, and according to Erickson, the team is coming together nicely.

As for whether the coaching philosophy will change much under Erickson, the answer is no.

'I'm kind of an interim coach, leaving open the possibility that Lupo could come back,' he said. 'We want to build the program up and continue to establish Estacada as a team that can be competitive.'

Erickson spent last season as an assistant to the varsity team after having spent the previous three years coaching the freshman and JV teams.

'I don't know where we'll be in the standings, to be honest,' Erickson said. 'We will be competitive and we could stay in the upper half of the league but we have to stay focused, because when you lack size you can't make mistakes.'

In other good news, the number of girls in the program continues to increase, as the freshman, JV and varsity teams have combined to feature 30 girls this season.

The Rangers first home game is at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 21 against Taft High School.