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Sandy opens practice with a young squad

by: FILE PHOTO: KRISTOPHER ANDERSON  - Sophomore Molly Nutt is one of only three returing players on the Sandy girls basketball team. The Pioneers opened the 2012 season with tryouts and the roster will be determined by Wednesday.

The Sandy girls basketball team opened practice on Monday, and the group in attendance was largely unrecognizable to followers of last year’s squad. Only three players are returning this year, including one starter, sophomore Molly Nutt, and the first player off the bench, Raquel Pellecer.

“I’m looking forward to coaching this good group of girls,” coach Matt Gist says. “We have a good core of sophomores and juniors.”

The roster will be finalized on Wednesday, and then the Pioneers can begin the process of unifying a new and young team. Gist says he expects to keep numerous underclassmen as well as a couple of transfer students.

So what’s the attitude he senses in the initial days of practice?

“There is a new passion around here,” he says. “It’s amazing what a new building does for the kids. We have a new school and a new approach.”

Players will need a lot of energy as Gist will spend the first weeks of the season preparing his team for his characteristic up-tempo style of play. The Pioneers will play with the same energy Gist implemented last season. He wants his team to run the floor and push the pace on offense, while swarming opponents on defense and applying full-court pressure.

Sandy has a little more than two weeks before it opens its season Nov. 30 by hosting the “Sandy Tournament.”

“The girls have put in a lot of extra time to prepare for the start of the season,” Gist says.

Gist also hopes the team’s annual preseason retreat to the mountains will help generate unity.

Sandy will try to improve on its 7-18 overall record and 4-10 Northwest Oregon Conference record from last season. The Pioneers finished sixth in the conference and ranked 30th in the state.

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