2017-2018 Winter Sports Previews: Molalla High School girls' basketball
Head coach: Phil Wiesner, fifth season, 2016-2017 Tri-Valley Coach of the Year
2016-2017 record: 14-7 overall, 9-1 league; Tri-Valley Conference Champions
Three-year record: 45-27, 20-10
Final OSAA power ranking: 12
Last playoff appearance: 2016-2017 season, lost to Seaside 38-31 in the first round at home
Seniors lost: 5 – Audrey Rieskamp, Rylee Elliott, Jenna Potter, Aliya Imholt, and Mackenzie Sheckard
Key returners: Senior Alicia Schultz, First Team All-League; senior Sierra Cox, Second Team All-League; junior Mattie Myers, All-League Honorable Mention; sophomore Maddy Lisac
Season outlook: The Indians are coming off of their first conference title since 2002 as they ran through the Tri-Valley Conference and earned a home playoff game in the first round. Head coach Phil Wiesner said he's anticipating this to be one of the most athletic teams he's seen in his tenure as seniors Alicia Schultz and Sierra Cox will look to continue their dynamic duo that led to the highest amount of points scored and lowest amount allowed in the Tri-Valley Conference. Junior Mattie Myers and sophomore Maddy Lisac will continue to play big roles on both sides of the ball, along with a mix of program veterans that "played on good JV and JV2 teams last season, plus a very athletic group of incoming freshman that could make an impact this season," according to Wiesner.
"We will be in the thick of the conference race along with Madras, who has everybody back, and Gladstone, who was hit by graduation and has a new coach, but as long as they have [senior] Grace Campbell, they'll be in the fight," Wiesner said. "It'll be an interesting season in conference with Corbett, Gladstone, and Estacada all having new coaches."
Wiesner said the team is pushing this year to improve its defensive efforts.
"While playing a fast-pace style, we still managed to have one of the lower points-per-game defenses around, but we can't be satisfied, and [we] want to get even better," he said. "As with all seasons, when players are added to the varsity [team], you look for combinations that get the job done, which will be our focus in our early games."
The Indians again sport a strong preseason schedule as they'll take on Banks right off the bat, rematch Seaside, host 2A powerhouse Western Mennonite at home, and then play in the North Marion and Sisters tournaments, the latter of which was one that many players described as the turning point for the team last year, when the Indians won 11 of their next 13 games.
Wiesner noted that they'll be taller overall at most positions this year "without sacrificing ball handling or team speed." In addition, Wiesner said they'll be complemented nicely by four of the likely starters coming off of a solid soccer season that saw the Indians reach the semifinal round.
"Obviously we're going to go after defending our league title and see how far we can push ourselves in the playoffs," Wiesner said. "With a league title and two consecutive Sweet 16 appearances, there will be no one overlooking us."
First game: The Indians will host Banks on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.
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