by: CORY MIMMS - Audrey Barden is one of the Cougars' key returners this year.Last year, Country Christian’s girls basketball team made it to the first round of playoffs, where they lost 43-36 to City Christian. This year, Coach Russ Halverson anticipates pushing past round one.

“We’re going to have very competitive league and non league games,” Halverson said. “It’ll be good for them. It will prepare them for the playoffs … The preseason schedule is rough. We’ll know early where we’re at.”

The Cougars had two key losses: HaiLee Richardson and Melanie Bicket both graduated.

“The good part is we rotated so deep on the bench the last couple years that I think we’ll be better than last year,” Halverson said. “We don’t have massive numbers, only 11 kids, but I feel confident putting any one of them on the varsity floor.

“We’ve got some good, mature kids,” Halverson said. “Only three seniors, but we’re pretty well off … Time will tell. There are little bugs to work out, but by the time we hit league games we should be in a good form.”

The Cougars’ prepared this summer as well. “We played 43 games,” Halverson said. “They got an opportunity to get a lot of games under their belts and minutes on the court.”

Overall, the girls are excited to start the season. “Basketball is my favorite,” Audrey Barden said. Barden, along with several of the other girls, played volleyball in the fall. “[My lungs] are a little out of shape,” Barden said, as volleyball doesn’t require as much sprinting as basketball.

Halverson isn’t relying on any single player to carry the rest of the team. The Cougars are “talented top to bottom,” he said. At every position, he has a player who knows their fundamentals, is athletic and plays well as a team. “We will be dangerous any given night,” he said.

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