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Tigers ready to battle in their bid to repeat

The defending league champs return 1st-team all-stater Maddie Black
by: Dan Brood BLACK IS BACK — Maddie Black, shown here at last year's Class 6A state tournament, is a top returnee for the Tigers.

TIGARD - Sure, the Tigard High School girls basketball team is the defending Pacific Conference champion.

Yes, the Tigers earned the sixth-place trophy at the Class 6A state tournament last year.

And, yeah, Tigard returns last year's Pacific Conference Player of the Year.

But, the Tigers know, it's not going to be an easy path back to the top.

'We lost a lot from last year,' Tigard coach Steve Naylor said. 'We lost six seniors and they all contributed in more than one way. This year, we have a lot of work to do from square one. There's a total transformation for the team, and we're working hard at it.'

Still, Tigard has some key returnees back from last year's squad that went 24-6 on the season, including a perfect 14-0 in Pacific Conference play.

Among those returnees is senior post Maddie Black (6-feet), who shared the Pacific Conference Player of the Year honors a year ago with Kaylie Van Loo of Glencoe while also earning Class 6A first-team all-state accolades.

'We think she's going to have a real good year,' Naylor said of Black, who has signed a letter of intent to play college basketball at Portland State University. 'She gives us leadership on and off the court. It will be interesting to see what other teams try to do with her.'

Tigard has another returning starter in junior post Megan Risinger (5-9).

'Every team needs a player like her,' Naylor said. 'She's a person we can count on to take a charge and to go get a rebound.'

Sophomore Lexi Carter (5-5), who shined in a back-up role last year, when she was an honorable mention all-league pick, takes over as the starting point guard.

'She now has it fulltime,' Naylor said. 'That's a tough role to step into. She's a great athlete and competitor, but she's still young.'

Senior returnee Jessica Roshak (5-7) steps into a starting spot, giving the Tigers a strong outside shooting threat.

'She's a great shooter,' Naylor said. 'She's also stronger and has improved her game.'

Sophomore guard Emilee Cincotta (5-5) could also be a starter for the Tigers this year.

'She's a great competitor and good athlete,' Naylor said.

Tigard has another senior returnee in guard Zoey Garland (5-3).

'She's one of our smartest players,' Naylor said. 'She understands it.'

Other players on the Tigard varsity roster include sophomore guard Megan Franz (5-7), senior post Mikayla Mason (5-9), junior guard Anna Warren (5-7), junior post Meeka Mayhew (5-9), junior post Adria Standeven (5-10) and junior post Julia Santos (5-7).

As for the team's strength, Naylor isn't sure yet what that is.

'We're still trying to figure that out,' he said. 'But we have a good group to figure that out with. We have some good returnees with experience.'

Meanwhile, the team's question mark looks to be its depth.

'We don't know what that looks like yet,' he said. 'We'll have to go with what we've got.'

As for the Pacific Conference this year, Naylor sees his team and Glencoe as the teams that could end up battling for the top spot.

'We'll be tough, and Glencoe returns seven of their top eight. They're the one to beat,' he said. 'Kaylie Van Loo might be the best senior point guard in the state. Tualatin will be up there. It will always be a battle when we play them.'

Tigard will open defense of its Pacific Conference championship Jan. 3 when it hosts Forest Grove in a league opener starting at 7:15 p.m.