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Terrific trio to lead the Tigers

Girls basketball: Tigard hopes its experience and depth will lead it to the top of the league standings
by: DAN BROOD, EYE OF THE TIGER — Junior guard Corinn Waltrip is one of the top returnees for the Tigard High School girls basketball team this season.

TIGARD - The Tigard High School girls basketball team knows that there are some things it can count on this season.

Mainly, the Tigers know they can count on getting solid play game in and game out from its terrific trio of senior posts Brittany Duty and Heidi Pizer and junior guard Corinn Waltrip.

Beyond that, if the pieces come together, it could be a successful 2007-08 season for the Tigers.

'We just need players to step up,' second-year Tigard coach Steve Naylor said. 'We've got plenty of experience. After our top three players, we've got five or six players who can fight for starting spots.'

Tigard lost just one player, second-team all-Pacific Conference guard Erica Hansen, to graduation from last year's Tiger squad that had an overall record of 18-7 and finished second in the league standings with an 11-4 mark.

However, before the season, Tigard lost another player, senior guard Jessica Bedell, who was an honorable-mention all-league pick last year, to a knee injury that will keep her out all season.

'That takes away a lot,' Naylor said. 'She was our lockdown defender.'

Still, the Tigers look to have plenty to build around this year, especially with Duty, Pizer and Waltrip back in action.

Last year, Duty (5-foot-10) earned first-team all-league honors after averaging 11.8 points a game in Pacific Conference play. Pizer (5-10) had a 13.3 scoring average in Pacific Conference play last year when she was a second-team all-league pick.

'I don't think Heidi and Brittany have put their best games together yet this season,' Naylor said. 'It's going to be something when that happens.'

Waltrip (5-5) was Tigard's leading scorer in league play last year with an average of 14.4 points a contest. She'll see time at the point guard spot and at the shooting guard spot for the Tigers this season.

'As a No. 2 guard, she's one of the best in the state,' Naylor said. 'At the No. 1, she's not as comfortable. She'll be playing as a combo guard mostly for us.'

The other two starting spots are up for grabs.

'Everyone else will be rotating,' Naylor said.

Tigard has some solid returning players vying for starting roles.

Among those is senior post Sarah Rehm (5-9), who is looking to come back from an early-season knee injury. She averaged 3.1 points a game in league play last year.

Junior guard Melissa Woolard (5-4) should give the Tigers an offensive spark whether she's starting or coming off the bench. She had a 3.9 scoring average in league contests last year.

Another returnee, junior guard Dianni Freeman (5-5) looks to be in the hunt for a starting spot.

Also back from last year's varsity team are senior post Alysha Brannon (5-11) and sophomore guard Chelsea Biglow (5-5).

New to the Tigard varsity are sophomore post Brittany Critchfield (5-10), freshman guard Amanda Craig (5-6) and freshman guard Kelsey Kaelin (5-5).

'We want to press and we like to run,' Naylor said. 'And we're going to play tough defense. We have experience and we know our plays and what we're doing. The girls are also picking things up quicker this year.'

As for the Pacific Conference this year, Naylor sees a competitive battle ahead for league supremacy.

'There are four teams, Canby, Tualatin, us and McMinnville, who will all make their runs,' he said. 'It's hard not to say that Tualatin is the favorite. They're still so tough. Canby is real good. They might be the most talented. We're looking to fit into the top three, but McMinnville could beat anyone on any night.'

Last Thursday, the Tigers scored a 48-34 win over Barlow in a non-league game played at Barlow High School. Waltrip scored 19 points in the victory and Duty added nine. The win gives Tigard a record of 5-1.