Indians girls' basketball will begin renaissance on the road in Seven-Mile War
Nine players are back with new coach Girres to make noise in Cowapa League
Hunter Dost and Kaylie Kopra are a guard-center tandem that can turn heads.
The Indians seniors (5-foot-6 and a 6-foot-1 all-Cowapa Leaguer, respectively) return with junior guards Lea Brodala, Krystal Esterly and Brianna Smith, sophomore guards Sara Mills, and Payton Fisher, sophomore forward Shaylan Smith and sophomore forward Emily Kopra to help Scappoose get back to the Class 4A state play-in round for the first time in three years.
"Our team has always been close, and I always look forward to growing more and more as a team," Dost said. "All of us want to push harder and harder to get to the playoffs this year, so I'm looking forward to seeing how we grow as a team and build a strong bond and use that to win games and go as far as we possibly can as one."
The Tribe is scheduled to open its season in the Seven-Mile War at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday in St. Helens.
"I am looking forward to playing with these girls and growing as a team," Kaylie Kopra said.
The Indians went head-to-head with the Lions this summer and have taken three of the last five such debuts by an average score of 38-33.
New to the fray are senior wing Nicole Nicholas, junior guard Karly Packinau, sophomore guard Taylor Johnson and freshman guard Allison Wills.
Scappoose usually goes 7-16 overall and 4-8 in league play since its Class 3A fourth-place run in 2006, but new coach Joe Girres joins the program from girls' golf with the departure of three-year skipper David Spirlin.
"What I enjoy about Coach Girres is how he has so much faith in us as individuals and as a team, and truly believes that, if he pushes us and works us, that we will fight for what we want as a team and on our own," Dost said.
The Tribe started 2-2 last year but lost 16 of their final 18 games, in which the average margin was 23 points.
The Indians also seek their first state title.
"Joe has a natural ability to motivate," Scappoose junior varsity coach Sarah Mann said. "It's contagious. He brings high energy, and the girls respond to him extremely well."
Kendal Bailey, a 6-foot all-league forward, graduated in the spring, but the Tribe's guards can score.
"Definitely looking forward to how the season's going to go with the new coach and how much more we're going to improve as a team," Mills said. "I like how he pushes us in every drill and how he has big plans for us in the future."
The Indians will also go up against Class 4A consolation semifinalist Madras, first-rounder North Marion, first-rounder Molalla, state runner-up Cascade and first-rounder Gladstone in the preseason.
Scappoose enters league home-and-aways with consolation semifinalist Seaside, fourth-place Banks, first-rounder Valley Catholic and play-in rounder Astoria.
The Tribe is deeper this time around, but the league championship is all-state sophomore guard Aspen Slifka and Banks' to defend and Valley Catholic's to challenge for.
"I am very excited about the increased number of girls in our program this year: We now have three teams," Mann said. "We also welcome coach Amy Cole as our freshman coach. I am excited about the commitment and participation the girls showed in summer basketball that is carrying into our season."
Coach: Joe Girres (First year)
Classification: Class 4A, Cowapa League
2015-16 finish: 5-17 overall, 1-9 Cowapa League (fifth in league, missed state tournament)
Key returners: Kaylie Kopra, sr., C; Hunter Dost, sr., G; Lea Brodala, jr., G; Krystal Esterly, jr., G; Brianna Smith, jr., G; Sara Mills, so., G; Payton Fisher, so., G; Shaylan Smith, so., F; Emily Kopra, so., F.
Key newcomers: Nicole Nicholas, sr., W; Karly Packinau, jr., G; Taylor Johnson, so., G; Allison Wills, fr., G.
Dec. 1 Scappoose at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m.
Dec. 6 Madras at Scappoose, 7 p.m.
Dec. 9 North Marion at Scappoose, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 13 Corbett at Scappoose, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 17 Philomath at Scappoose, 6 p.m.
Dec. 20 Scappoose at Seton Catholic, 7:30 p.m., in Vancouver, Wash.
Dec. 22 Scappoose at Warrenton, 5 p.m.
Dec. 28-30 Scappoose at Hidden Valley Tournament, in Grants Pass
Jan. 3 Scappoose at Molalla, 6 p.m.
Jan. 6 Scappoose at Cascade (Turner)
Jan. 10 Scappoose at Philomath, 7 p.m.
Jan. 13 Gladstone at Scappoose, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 Seaside at Scappoose, 7:30 p.m. *
Jan. 19 Scappoose at Tillamook, 7:30 p.m. *
Jan. 24 Banks at Scappoose, 7:30 p.m. *
Jan. 27 Valley Catholic at Scappoose, 7:30 p.m. *
Jan. 31 Scappoose at Astoria, 7:30 p.m. *
Feb. 3 Scappoose at Seaside, 6 p.m. *
Feb. 7 Tillamook at Scappoose, 6 p.m. *
Feb. 10 Scappoose at Banks, 6 p.m. *
Feb. 14 Scappoose at Valley Catholic, 6 p.m., in Beaverton *
Feb. 16 Astoria at Scappoose, 6 p.m. *
* - Cowapa League game