By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– Once in every few years you’ll graduate an impact player or two, but you have more players in the wings waiting to take over.
For Cascade however, they’ve had not just a heavy senior presence last season with eight to guide them to a second-place finish in 4A in 2018 but also had a once-in-a-generation type of talent at the 4A level in Halle Wright who’s at Montana State this season that had graduated entering this season as they enter the 2018-2019 season with four Varsity rostered people and a heavy influx of freshman coming in this season.
There’s pressure there of course as Head Coach Mark Stevens mentioned about how teams will be looking to get what is considered rare wins over them with how much success the Lady Cougars program as had the past few seasons, but Stevens this year isn’t looking for League Championship or Trophy-like runs as much as laying the foundation for the years to come.
“Being a league champ is huge, but now I’m not entertaining that but I would like to get them into the Top 3 (in league),” said Stevens. “I’ll like to put them into positions at the end of the year where the games are super important and they mean moving on or not. When we start getting those under our belts a little bit and then next year…I really believe in doing damage and bringing trophies home, that kind of stuff is kind of stepping stones. You don’t usually see brand new teams go up and do well.”
The Mad Scientist brought up Hidden Valley of last season as a good example of a ‘new’ team that ended up doing well. The Mustangs had two Seniors and a bulk of freshman, sophomore and juniors that got the Grants Pass-area team to the brink of bringing home a trophy after losing to North Marion and Stayton at Pacific University and Forest Grove High School.
And though anything is indeed possible when the ball is tossed up, Stevens is trying to keep his squad’s head level going through drills Monday Night with their first game of the season at Seaside this Friday night.
Cascade will only have one Senior in Emma Bjorkland while having three juniors in Abbie Barber, Abbigail Cordero and Camryn Boyles. Boyles saw 11 minutes of playing time in the Cougars three Final Site games, scoring three points and bringing in four rebounds as a sophomore.
And with at least 10 or so preseason games before they kick-off league on January 8 in Sisters, it gives this young squad an opportunity to adjust to the speed of the game now to build up to those pressure cooker situations in league when it’s time to pull through and come out on top as they grow together as a team this season.
“It was tough, we have a lot of freshman. I don’t know how many freshman, but we have a lot of freshman coming in,” starts Boyles as the freshman adjust to the next level of school basketball. “But I think once we get a couple more practices in and game experience from preseason, we’ll be back up there.”
And Stevens wasn’t fully taking it easy on the freshman girls, holding them to the same high standards he would of them as if they were older considering they ran a version of his system down at the Middle School level. But Stevens understood too that he would have to explain some more details to them about the system he runs as they are now up at the High School Level.
The freshman know that they have each other backs, being so close already with the upperclassmen as they go into the season with the mindset of just doing their thing as a team and seeing what happens.
“I think it’s going pretty well actually. The upperclassmen are really helpful and really encouraging us. It’s going to be hard, but we’re going to get through it,” said freshman six-foot-two post Brookelyn Worst. “We’re coming in pretty strong actually, we’re just really close together and the upperclassmen, they’re with us too. We’ve known them for a while now and know that this year was going to be kind of hard. Not thinking about the wins and losses, just practice our hardest and play our game.”
Cascade tips off the season at Seaside on Friday at 7:30pm before hosting Hood River Valley and Valley Catholic next week to start a four-game homestand before going back on the road on December 14 to Estacada.