Cowgirls banking on athleticism

Crook County hoping to improve in Coach Verity's second year at the helm
The Crook County girls basketball team will most likely not be towering over any opponents this season.
   They will instead, according to head coach Jim Verity, run, pass and shoot around them.
   "We will put a strong, athletic team on the court this season," he said. "We are not blessed with any height, but our athleticism is above and beyond where its ever been in my seven years at Crook County."
   Verity said his team is focusing on three key areas as the season begins: turnovers, field goal percentage and rebounding. The Cowgirls struggled in these categories last year as they tumbled to a 3-11 IMC record, 4-17 overall.
   Verity, in his second year at the helm, said his team will benefit from the developing consistency at the leadership position. In the last four years, this will be the first time the Cowgirls have had the same coach in consecutive seasons.
   "The merry go round of coaching takes a major toll on the success, or lack of success, of a program," he said. "It takes time to build a program, from both the coaching standpoint and the players."
   The Cowgirls will hit the court with two returning starters and seven returning lettermen.
   The projected starting five are Rachael Conley, Erin Ontko, Stevie Howard, Halley Hehn and Kaylea Pierce.
   Verity points to Hermiston, Bend, Pendleton and Redmond as some of the conference's stronger teams.
   "Hermiston, Pendleton and Bend will be big, fast and athletic," he said. "Redmond will bring five speedsters at you for four quarters."
   Verity refused to single out any key match-ups for the team this year because he plans instead on approaching the season on a game by game basis.
   "Our key match-ups are the next game," he said. "This group needs to find success. We have been in the cellar of the IMC for a long time. Too many teams come to our house and believe that the game has already been decided. To change that belief, we must first change our own way of thinking."