Girls hoops hopes for shot at state

Experienced team, new coach bring optimism to HRV girls hoops.

"Flory up the wing. Passes inside to Halliday. Swings it back out to Meierbachtol. Kicks it outside the arc to Benjamin for the shot -- good!"

Sound familiar?

The names maybe, but the playing surface has drastically changed, from grass to hardwood. And instead of keeping track of goals, the stat sheet will chart the number of field goals.

It's basketball season, and although more than half the HRV girls varsity roster was also on the soccer team, this veteran team also features two of HRV’s top volleyball players, Lesley Betts and Lindsey Sanguras.

"This group has a lot of experience and an attitude that they can compete with anyone," said first-year head coach Tracy Norton. "The entire varsity squad is extremely hard working and we should win a lot of games."

Two of the most determined players on the team, junior point guard Becca Meierbachtol and senior forward Mickie Halliday, recently finished their state playoff run with the soccer team, and will carry that emotion into the starting lineup for the Eagles.

Meierbachtol will manage a similar role on the court as she did on the pitch, guiding the team's offense with her savvy ball skills, leadership and court awareness.

Halliday, who will rotate with Betts in and out of the starting five, is one of the team's fiercest rebounders and will use her aggression and size to help control the middle for the Eagles.

"Mickie is an extremely hard worker on the boards and will improve her playing time with her rebounding skills," Norton said.

Starting shooting guard Lindsay Benjamin and first-string center Meghan Merz were also part of the soccer girls' playoff run and hope to infuse the same energy into the hoop team.

The sharpshooting Benjamin led the team in scoring last season and will carry much of the scoring load for HRV in her senior season. Merz, a 5'10" senior, is the team's most imposing physical force and Norton will rely on her heavily to keep the oversized Central Catholic and Barlow girls from dominating the glass.

Sanguras, also a senior, rounds out the starting lineup at wing (shooting guard/small forward), and along with Benjamin and Becki Flory, is one of the Eagles' best outside shooters.

Flory will be the first guard off the bench and Norton believes she will make a big difference in the Eagles' offense with her quick first step and moves to the hoop. Susie Benton will also see extensive time at the two-guard, but is more of a passer than a shooter.

Backing up Merz at the center spot will be 5'9" senior Meghan Stintzi and 5'11" junior Brittany Reed, who will float between the JV and varsity squads.

"Our depth up front is going to be a question mark at the beginning of the season," Norton said. "We don't have a lot of height and it’s going to be important for us to put pressure on the other teams' ball handlers so they don't have a chance to get the ball in low.

"But if we can use our speed and quickness to our advantage, I think we're going to surprise some people," she said.

The Eagles will employ a half-court man-to-man defense and use their aggressive style to frustrate opposing teams before they can send the ball inside.

On offense, they will try to get the ball up the court quickly and utilize the fast break whenever possible. Norton said the emphasis this year will be on the open shot, regardless of which player has it, then crashing the boards.

The Eagles will have their work cut out for them in the size-dominated Mt. Hood Conference, but Norton is confident that if they play their aggressive, up-tempo style, they can sneak up on the second-tier teams such as Gresham, Centennial and Reynolds.

"I'm not really sure we fit in right now," Norton said. "We could be anywhere from second to sixth in the conference "But my goal is to get to state, and I know if the girls believe in themselves, we can accomplish that goal."

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