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Wolves younger, but still talented

Girls basketball: The athletic Tualatin team will be looking to repeat as Pacific Conference champ
by: DAN BROOD, INSIDE STRENGTH — Tualatin High School junior Kelly Millager (right) will be a key player inside the paint for the Timberwolves in Pacific Conference play this season.

TUALATIN - Things are going to look a little different for the Tualatin High School girls basketball team.

The Timberwolves lost four starters to graduation, including the state's Player of the Year in Sam Child, from last year's team that went unbeaten in Pacific Conference play.

But all of that doesn't necessarily mean that the Timberwolves won't be enjoying plenty of success this year.

'We're young and we don't have a lot of experience,' Tualatin coach Todd Jukkala said. 'But I think we have some good athletes. And the kids are stepping up. They spent a lot of time in the summer working together, so they have a lot of familiarity with each other.'

Tualatin not only lost four starters from last year's team that went 23-4 on the season and 15-0 in league games, but the Wolves lost another player, senior post Jessica Meteer, who transferred to Arizona prior to the start of the season.

'We'll miss her,' Jukkala said.

Still, Tualatin looks to be strong in the post with senior Janelle Cromie (6-foot) and junior Kelly Millager (6-1) returning. They are each in their third year on the Tualatin varsity roster.

Last year, Cromie earned honorable-mention all-league honors when she averaged 4.7 points a game in Pacific Conference contests. Millager is the team's leading scorer among returning players as she had a 6.0 average in league games last year.

The Wolves also have a key returnee in the backcourt in junior Madeline Houston (5-7), who scored at a 4.7 clip in league games last year.

'She gives us some experience at guard,' Jukkala said.

Tualatin also has a returnee of sorts at a wing spot in senior Danielle Roisom (5-8). As a sophomore, Roisom got into a handful of varsity games before suffering a season-ending injury. She also missed her entire junior season due to injury, but she looks to be back strong as a senior, giving the team a strong outside shooting threat.

'Danielle coming back is a great story,' Jukkala said. 'She's proving to still be aggressive and she's working hard.'

Sophomores Meaghan Cichoke (5-6) and Marissa Senger (5-7) will play at the wing and some at guard. They both saw varsity action last year as freshmen.

Senger is especially off to a hot start to the season as she scored 36 points in the Wolves' season-opening win over Benson.

Sophomore Kelsey Allred (5-9) will also see action at wing. She was the top scorer on Tualatin's junior varsity team last year.

Sophomore Aly Brown (6-1), who saw varsity action last year as a freshman, will play in the post for the Wolves again this year.

Among the newcomers to varsity are sophomores Madeline White (5-8) and Julie Arndorfer (5-8).

'They both really hustle and they're scrappy,' Jukkala said.

Sophomore guard Rosie Mathews (5-5) and freshman Jenny Johnson will also see time on the varsity this year.

'I think we do a little bit of everything well,' Jukkala said of the team's strength this season. 'We're still trying to work up to our up-tempo style. We've had some depth issues so far, but we're trying to get up there. The question mark for us will be our consistency.'

As for the Pacific Conference this season, Jukkala sees plenty of competition for the top spots this season.

'You have to start with Tigard,' he said. 'They have all the experience and they've played together. And (Brittany) Duty, (Heidi) Pizer and (Corinn) Waltrip might be as good a trio as you see anywhere. I think Canby will give them a run for their money. They should be very tough. McMinnville should be there also'

And how about the Timberwolves?

'I'd like to think of ourselves competing for a playoff spot and for the top spot in the league,' Jukkala said. 'But we have a lot of questions. We hope to compete.'