Its a building year for Milwaukie girls basketball

Milwaukie girls basketball coach Kevin McElroy says his team is not without talent.

But with only one returning letter winner from last year’s team that went 14-0 in the Northwest Oregon Conference and 22-4 overall, McElroy acknowledges that this year’s team is a work in progress.

“Last year we had a bunch of seasoned players that understood our system,” the Mustang cage boss observed. “They had a great deal of experience. They’d played together for three years....

“The girls on the team this year have not played together at all. It is a work in progress. Our goal is to get better with every game and every practice, but it’s going to take some time to make that happen. Hopefully we can get it done and come together by postseason....

“Right now I’m still trying to figure out the starting lineup.”

One bright spot for the Mustangs is the return of Merrily Jones, a 6-2 sophomore post who would have seen a good deal of playing time last year as a freshman, if it hadn’t been for a knee injury that ended her season before it got started.

Jones is healthy now, and she is starting. She scored 15 points in a game last week, when the Mustangs gave Class 6A Jesuit a run for its money in a 47-41 loss.

The only returning letter winner from last year is senior Shelby Envoldsen (5-10 post).

The Mustangs have another player with varsity experience in senior Karissa Delaunay (5-8 point guard), a transfer from Barlow.

This year’s varsity roster includes two freshmen, Chelsea Brooks (5-7 guard) and Caitlyn Grogan (5-7 guard).

Rounding out the roster are five players up from last year’s jayvee team: juniors Brianna Stanfield (5-3 guard) and Chloe Hester (5-6 guard); and sophomores Julia Rivers (6-0 post), Alex Mulford (5-7 guard) and Skyler Hampton (5-9 forward).

McElroy says that on paper, Putnam should be the favorite to win the NWOC. After that, he says it could be a dogfight.

“Our goal is to just get better every game and to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season,” said McElroy.

McElroy added, “The future looks bright. We have some sophomores who are going to get good playing time this year and we have a strong eighth grade class coming up.”

The Mustangs travel to Gresham for a tournament after Christmas. They face Class 6A Barlow at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 26, in their tournament opener.

Milwaukie hosts Class 6A Tigard on Tuesday, Jan. 7, and the Mustangs play Class 6A Canby on the road on Jan. 10.

The Mustangs entertain Putnam in their Jan. 17 NWOC opener.

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