The 2013 Del Norte girls basketball team has 11 players on the roster and all of them could have an opportunity to contribute meaningful minutes this season. With a new head coach and several new players, however, there are more questions than answers about the Warriors heading into the season.
Jeff Cook is taking over the varsity from Mike Ernest. Cook has been coaching basketball for the last 10 years, including the last four as the Del Norte boys JV coach. This will be his first varsity head coaching job.
“From what I have heard, it really hasn’t been that successful of a program, so I am coming into this open-minded,” Cook said. “It looks like I have athletic girls. I know all of them from other sports, but I don’t know how they are in basketball because I didn’t get to watch them much last year.”
Last season the girls had their most successful season in a while. They finished with their most wins in four years and a 10-12 overall record. They were 1-7 in the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5, getting Del Norte’s first league win in two years.
The Warriors lost four seniors from that team, including leading scorer Brittany Maready, but they have four more seniors again this year.
“I think the seniors are definitely trying to lead the team and help some of the players that haven’t played as much on varsity,” said senior Kaitlyn Clemann. “We are going to have to step up more than we did last year when those seniors were leading. They taught us a lot and so this year we are going to use what we learned.”
Clemann is joined by returning seniors Ericka Alcala and Pahnia Yang. Fellow senior Ashton Smedley is also rejoining the team after two years away from the sport.
Smedley and Clemann will make up one of the tallest front courts in the league with both girls standing 5-foot-11. Although it has been a couple years, Smedley and Clemann grew up playing in the paint together.
“We both went to the same middle school, so we have been playing basketball and volleyball together for years,” Clemann said. “She is strong, tall and a good shooter underneath. I think she is going to bring a really good post presence for us.”
Del Norte will also welcome junior Shelby Bomke back to the basketball court after a year-long hiatus. At 5-foot-9, Bomke along with 5-foot-9 junior Jordan Babich and 5-foot-8 junior Grace Bruschi will add a lot of height and depth to the front court.
“I have a problem where I have too many bigs,” Cook said. “That is a good problem. I have never had that problem before. I just have to figure out how to use it.”
Del Norte has more weapons than just height, however. The Warriors return Loftin, Alcala, Yang and junior Kayla Costello, who all spent some time playing guard for the varsity last season.
“We have a lot of good shooters too,” Clemann said. “We don’t have any definite weaknesses at this point. We have shooters, bigs and tall girls. As long as we all work together, we should have a good season.”
With so many players, Cook is hoping that he will be able to play up-tempo on offense and defense, leaning on the team’s depth to wear opponents out.
“We are going to full court press,” Cook said. “I am definitely going to have a good bench. I have already wrote up nine different line-ups that I can have and still be solid at every position. There are two good teams here.
“If they play hard, a lot of the bench is going to play.”
Competition starts Wednesday when the Warriors welcome St. Bernards to Thunen Gymnasium.
“The preseason is all about figuring it out, because it is all about league play,” Cook said. “I will try to figure out what I can do and what I can’t do... I honestly have no idea what will work for us. They have been doing well in practice but we will have to see what works once games begin.”