Glencoe girls reload and look for another top-three finish in the league standings

The season is new, but the goal has not changed for the Glencoe girls basketball HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Glencoe freshman post Abby Anderson goes up for a shot during last Wednesday's preseason game against Jesuit at the Forest Grove Jamboree.

“Our goal is always to finish in that top three, just with how the power rankings work,” head coach Dylan Hettrich explained. “If we get in the top three, we get a bye from the play-in. It’s going to be tough because everyone’s gotten better.”

The Crimson Tide did just that a season ago, going 14-11 overall and 10-4 in the Pacific Conference to take third place, just a game behind Tualatin. Glencoe narrowly fell to Southridge 52-46 in the first round.

This winter’s Crimson Tide squad will look familiar in some ways and yet also a bit different, perhaps especially because of the departure of Marly Anderson. The lanky 6-foot-2 post was a first team All-Pacific Conference pick last season and has taken her skills — not to mention her 17 points and 12 rebounds per game — to Eastern Washington University.

Helping step into that void, literally, is Anderson’s little sister, 6-1 freshman Abby Anderson.

“She’s a little different than Marly was,” Hettrich noted. “Marly was a little bit stronger, stouter. Marly could really step out and shoot the three. Abby’s working on it. She doesn’t quite have the range of Marly, but she’s super athletic, she’s long and she jumps really well.”

The Tide also have some veteran presence in the form of two returning all-leaguers — senior guard Courtney Clayton (5-7), who was a second team all-league pick last season, and junior guard/post Marissa Fleskes (5-9), who tallied an honorable mention nod.

Clayton “can stretch the floor for us with the three-ball,” Hettrich said. “She brings an added toughness. She’s our only senior. A lot of kids look for her just for her leadership. She’s a great kid and she does a great job leading by example.”

Hettrich described Fleskes as an energetic, versatile player with a long reach.

“She gets a hand on a lot of balls,” he said. “She has a great knack for the ball off the ball and help side, which is huge for us.”

A couple other juniors in guard Jessica Lantz (5-8) and guard/post Cassidy Griswold (5-8) also saw considerable playing time as sophomores and bring experience and confidence. Add in junior post Lillie Hamel (5-9) and two more guards in sophomore Kayla Hyppolite (5-9) and freshman Jordyn Feinauer (5-4), and Hettrich has a rotation that goes eight players deep.

“We’re trying to get up and down a little bit and up the tempo a little bit, which is new to a lot of kids,” Hettrich said. “So I think we’re kind of finding we need to be in a bit better condition shape. It’s coming along. It’s a little slow ... but I like the progressions we’re making.”

Century Jaguars

This will be a season of change for the Century girls basketball team.

Not only will the Jaguars have to adapt to new offensive and defensive schemes under first-year head coach Dave Gainey, but Gainey himself will have to make the transition to coaching girls after many seasons as a varsity boys assistant under Scott Kellar.

“It’s been a little tricky, but I’ve got a staff that’s really enthusiastic and the girls are working hard,” Gainey said. “We’re gradually trying to put things in. The expectation is that we’re trying to get a little bit better every day.”

Gainey will have the luxury of building around four players who started last year, including 6-foot-1 senior post Chandler Montgomery, an honorable mention All-Pacific Conference selection last year. Other returners include junior Braana Weber and sophomores Chantal Castaneda and Jade Bevandich, who both started last year as freshmen.

Add to the mix senior role players Allie Kenfield and Cassidy VanDomelen, plus 6-3 senior Courtney Sirois, who returns to the team after a three-year absence, and Gainey has plenty of reason for optimism.

“I think things are going pretty well so far,” he said. “These are great kids and they work really hard. Our motto is, ‘Play hard and have fun, and the winning will take care of itself.’”

Perhaps the biggest change for the Jaguars this season will be the switch from zone to man-to-man defense, plus Gainey said the offense will focus more on continuous movement.

“The major transition is that these girls have played a lot of zone defense, and we’ll play almost strictly man-to-man,” he said. “It’s tough, because they’ve been playing zone their whole time in the program and all of a sudden we’re saying, ‘We’re not going to do that anymore.’ Still, I think it’s coming along pretty well.”

The early results are promising — Century has already won its first three games this season, with a nonleague tilt scheduled for tonight against Parkrose.

“Everybody on the roster has something they bring to the table,” Gainey said. “It’s just a matter of finding out what their role will be.”

Hillsboro Spartans

Optimism is running high in the Hillsboro girls basketball program.

“I’m excited. They’re great kids. They’ve been working hard in practice,” coach Sara Harsin said. “They’ve been doing what they’re supposed to be doing. I think we have a lot of talent, we have a lot of size, we have a lot of potential. When we put it all together, we look really good.”

It’s easy to understand the enthusiasm — the Spartans welcome a new coach in Harsin this winter, bring back a first team all-conference guard and inject some serious height into the lineup in the form of 6-foot-plus sister transfers.

That combination could well help Hillsboro climb out of the Pacific Conference cellar. The Spartans put together a respectable 11-15 campaign for the 2012-13 season but stumbled to a 2-12 mark in league play to finish in eighth place. They did win a 57-51 play-in game at Grant to make the 32-team Class 6A state playoff field.

First team all-conference guard Lauren Lykins (5-foot-8) is back for her final year on the Hilhi hardcourt.

“Lauren does anything, she does it well,” Harsin said. “She’s a smart kid. She works hard. We’re working on her leadership, and she’s rising to the challenge. I feel confident having Lauren do anything.”

Sisters Tarea and Shariah Green, a junior and a sophomore, respectively, give Lykins some exciting options with which to work down in the paint. The elder Green was a second team All-Metro League selection while at Jesuit last year.

“They’re big-time players,” Harsin said. “They’re great kids. They come ready to go.”

Other key players are senior post Marley Dizney Swanson (5-11), one of the team’s vocal leaders, and senior Anna Matheisen, a team captain and a heady, versatile player Harsin said could play up to four positions.

And a player for now and the future is Makenna Gambee, a 6-1 guard who is already starting.

“She’s going to do good things for us,” Harsin noted. “We really look forward to watching her grow over the next month and a half.”

Liberty Falcons

The Liberty girls basketball team is a bit of a work in progress at this point.

The Falcons graduated four All-Northwest Oregon Conference players off of last season’s 15-11, league runner-up squad, including first team guard Kylie Wruble. And their sole returning all-leaguer, 5-foot-9 senior guard McKenzie Oster, is missing some time after having recently sustained a concussion.

The good news is that third-year coach Melanie Wagoner expects Oster back in the coming days, she said on Tuesday, which will bolster a young roster.

“I think we’re working really hard. We’re young,” Wagoner said. “We look to McKenzie for a lot of leadership, and it’s tough when we don’t have her. We’re working on learning to play every possession and score the ball and get back on defense — all the fundamental stuff.”

In Oster, Wagoner said, she has a scorer who can shoot, drive to the hoop and create opportunities for others. The senior, who also plays soccer and golf at Liberty, was a third team all-conference pick last winter.

Wagoner said that the rest of her roster includes players who have some varsity experience but no full-time returners. The roster includes guards Ashley Driscoll (senior, 5-4), Paige Smotherman (junior, 5-4), and sophomores Mihaela Keller (5-4), Kalie Neumeyer (5-4) and Alyssa Grenfell (5-10).

Sophomores Elaina Maki (6-0) and Andrea Gallegos (5-8) and senior Maddie Bradshaw (5-11) are all posts for the Falcons.

“They’re all going to have an opportunity to step up,” Wagoner said.

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