Team plans to feature a more up-tempo style of play this year

by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Kelsee Martin attempts to drive around Jena Ovens during a drill at a recent Crook Count High School girls basketball practice. Martin and Ovens are expected to play major roles on this year’s basketball team. The team plays their first game on Friday, Nov. 30, against Madras.

It’s going to be a new-look Cowgirl basketball team.
   The Cowgirls lost seven players to graduation off of last year’s squad, which reached the first round of the state playoffs. In addition, senior post, Makayla Lindburg, who recently signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at the University of Portland, has elected not to play basketball this year.
   As a result, head coach Dave Johnson has altered the team’s style for the upcoming season.
   “We’re working on fast breaking and running a little bit more than we did last year,” he said. “And that’s looking pretty good as far as girls getting up and down the court and playing with more speed this year.”
   One thing the Cowgirls have this year is speed. Returning varsity players Jessie Loper, Jena Ovens, Kelsee Martin, and Ali Apperson all have good speed as does Maddie Lindburg who has moved up from the JV squad.
   In addition to faster style of play, the team will also feature a number of new players.
   Kelsie Smith, who saw limited varsity action last year, has stepped into the mix. According to Johnson, the 5-10 junior has been working hard.
   “She has some big goals,” Johnson said. “She knows where she wants to be as a basketball player and she has been working hard to meet those goals.”
   Also expected to play major roles this year are Emily Benton and Katie Estes, who have moved up from last year’s JV team as well as freshman Kimmer Severance.
   Although the team will be young, Johnson is confident in the team’s senior leadership. The team’s three seniors, Loper, Apperson, and Harli Bowers are all experienced performers. However, even more important to Johnson is their leadership.
   “Those three seniors are doing a great job with leadership,” he said.
   Johnson also likes his blend of youth and experience.
   “We have all the pieces we need,” he said. “We have kids that can play basketball and kids that can play every position. We have kids with goals and I think our seniors want to carry on the tradition of the last couple of years when we have reached the playoffs.”
   The Cowgirls open their season tonight when they host the Madras White Buffaloes in a 7 p.m. game. The team continues their schedule Saturday when they travel to Sisters to take on the Outlaws, also at 7 p.m.
   “We’re real excited for the season to begin,” Johnson said. “Madras is a great rivalry and we are excited to be playing more 4A teams this year.”
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