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The Tigers, with key returning players, stand in first place in the Three Rivers League

DAN BROOD - Tigard junior guard Paige LaFountain (right) is in her third year on the Tiger varsity roster.TIGARD — So far, so good for the Tigard High School girls basketball team.

In fact, things are even better than expected for the Tigers.

"We're playing better than I thought we would at this point," Tigard coach Steve Naylor said, talking about the outlook for his team as Three Rivers League play continues. "The girls are working real hard We're pretty athletic, and we have people who can knock down some shots."

Tigard, which topped the Three Rivers League standings, at 5-0 (10-3 overall), going into Wednesday's league game with rival Tualatin, opened the season with a strong group of returnees from last year's squad that won the TRL crown at 14-2, while going 19-7 on the season.

Among those returnees is junior guard Campbell Gray (5-foot-8). Gray, in her third year on the Tigard varsity, was a first-team All-Three Rivers League pick last year.

"Obviously, she leads the team," Naylor said. "She's just a tough player. We go how she goes."

Junior guard Paige LaFountain (5-6), an honorable-mention all-league pick last year, is back for her third season on the Tiger varsity.

"She's got a lot of varsity experience," Naylor said. "And she's become a little more assertive. Like Campbell, she can play either guard spot, but she's a true point guard."

Sophomore guard Delaney Leavitt (5-9) returns after seeing plenty of action last year as a freshman.

"She's getting better and better," Naylor said. "She has no fear."

Guard Gabby McGaughey (5-5) is back, and expected to continue to provide leadership.

"She's our only senior with starting experience," Naylor said. "She'll help us out tremendously. She gets us going."

Junior Dani Lyons (5-8) is back at a post spot for the Tigers.

"She's another tough kid," Naylor said. "She's smooth with the basketball. It will be rare that she'll have a night where she's taller than who she's playing against."

A key newcomer for the Tigers this season is sophomore guard Kennedy Brown (5-5), who missed her freshman season due to a knee injury.

"She's so aggressive," Naylor said. "With her, the gas pedal is down all the time."

Seniors Caitlin Erickson (5-10) and Hannah Jedan (5-8) should both help out in the post. Another senior, Xandra Britch (5-4) should continue to help out at a guard spot.

Other players on the Tigard varsity roster include sophomore guard Lexi Klum (5-5), freshman guard Ajae Kadel (5-8) and junior guard Kelsie Boschma (5-5).

"Athleticism and aggressiveness," Naylor said, in regard to what could be the Tigers' strength this year.

And, for the question marks, "our height is a big part of it," he said.

As for the Three Rivers League, Naylor sees a battle ahead for the Tigers, as they look to keep the top spot in the standings.

"It's tough," he said. "I think us, West Linn and Canby will be up there."

The Tigers, who went eight days without playing before Wednesday's game with Tualatin, will be back in action on Friday, when they play at Canby in a league game starting at 5:45 p.m. On Tuesday, the Tigers will be home to face Lake Oswego at 7 p.m.

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