Prep Girls Basketball Capules
Last year: 4-14
Top returners: Shanna Skousen, jr., F/W; Amelda Maynes, jr., PG
Key newcomers: Julia De La Torre, jr., W; Samantha Twist, jr., G/W
Coach James Jones' comments: “We're going to have one point guard and try to get up to the floor and cut and keep the ball moving.”
The lowdown: Jones plans to scrap the traditional position-style basketball and play a fast-paced, guard and wing oriented offense. In the early part of the season, Jones has praised his girls' work ethic and said they're looking better with each day. Jones, who coached the Antelope boys basketball team last season, will rely heavily on the juniors and gets the services of Twist, who transferred from Kofa.
Last year: 20-9, lost in state tournament
Top returners: Alexis Evans, sr., F; Malacah Jackson, soph., G;
Key newcomers: Victoria Villa, jr., G; Baylee Lakey, jr., P; Victoria Sanchez, jr, F
Coach Justin Hager's comments: “It's a new group but we had a JV team that was pretty solid last year. I think they only lost one game. We've played a lot in the summer and I think we're deeper than we've been.”
The lowdown: The Raiders lost eight seniors from last year's team, including sharpshooter Ashley Doering and Brandi Badilla, who is now a walk-on at Northern Arizona. The younger Cibola team gets tested right out of the game by opening its season against Pinnacle, who Hager expects to be one of the best in the state. After playing several weekends in the summer, Hager feels his new-look team will be ready to make another run at the state tournament.
Last year: 8-11
Top returners: Adly Wiley, sr., G; Jocelyn Castaneda, sr., PG; Jasmine Ortiz, jr., P; Kayla Cruz, jr., G; Sally Gastelo, soph., G
Key newcomers: Jacky Fuentes, sr., P
Coach Mary Kaye Garcia's comments: “I have a majority of the team from last year, and the girls dedicated themselves a lot to open gyms before the season.”
The lowdown: Garcia takes over for former Kofa coach Eric Krepps after spending the past seasons as the JV coach for the Kings. They bring back a lot of speed, so Garcia expects the Kings to have Castaneda and Gastelo to push the ball on offense. Kofa will be without junior Gabby Vazquez, who will miss the entire season with a knee injury.
San Luis Sidewinders
Last year: 6-15
Top returners: Teresa Velasco, sr., C; Irania Fimbres, sr., PG; Kathya Cazarez, sr., SF; Alba Herrera, sr., PF; Paloma Carrillo, jr., G; Ericka Castro, jr., PF; Nadia Rodriguez, jr., G
Key newcomers: Samantha Sepulveda, jr., C; Aydali Campa, jr., G
Coach Carlos Ambriz's comments: “For the first time we have 7 returning experience players that are hungry to play and be competitors in our region. It's been a long process but we feel strong.”
The lowdown: The Sidewinders struggled against some of the area's bigger schools last season — going 0-9 against Cibola, Gila Ridge and Kofa. However, with several key returners from last season, Ambriz feels like San Luis should be stronger and ready to compete with some of the better teams in the region. Look for the Sidewinders to try to push the ball offensively this season.
Yuma High Criminals
Last year: 1-23
Top returners: Emmalee Nitelet, sr., G; Janeana Kosterlistzky, sr., G; Baylee Franklin, sr., F
Key newcomers: Michelle Watson, sr., F; Shana Stewart, soph., F; Katelynn Epley, soph., F.
Coach Nate Jurgens' comments: “We're going to go as far as the seniors take us. They're the heart and soul of the team.”
The lowdown: It was another down year for the Criminals last season, but Jurgens feels that if the Criminals can handle the defensive pressure from other teams — a weakness in years past — Yuma High should be able to surprise some people. They return Watson, who sat out her junior season after playing her sophomore season. The Criminals have gone 11-111 the past six seasons, but Jurgens feels that his girls could finally break that stretch of tough seasons.
Yuma Catholic Shamrocks
Last year: 13-14, lost in first round of state tournament
Top returners: Madison Brazeel, jr., PG; F; Makena Zamora, sr., G; Mary Terkelsen, jr., F; Stephanie Vandervoort, sr., G
Key newcomers: Darci McAllister, jr., P; Lindsay Martin, fr., G;
Coach Bob McGalliard's comments: “We can't win 20 games with our five starters. We're going to need those other girls off the bench. There's going to be nights we don't have it or we get in foul trouble.”
The lowdown: After finishing 0-18 in 2009-2010, the Shamrocks' core group of young players took another step last season by making the state playoffs. Brazeel, Zamora and Terkelsen provide scoring for the Shamrocks, and McGalliard hopes that Vandervoort can fill the void of Chelsey Mendenhall, who decided not to play this season. McGalliard stressed that the depth of his team could determine the season — solid play from the bench could give them a chance to possibly make a run in the state tournament.
— San Pasqual coach Patricia Malvido could not be reached.