A young but athletic lineup of players has Chad Leeson excited about the upcoming season. The second-year Horizon Christian School varsity girls basketball coach says although the team has no seniors, this year’s squad has speed, quickness and the right mindset to continue the uptick the team has seen in recent years.
“I’m excited about our potential this season,” Leeson said Wednesday. “The girls are very athletic and talented and have a great understanding of the game. Many have been playing for a while now, so they just have to learn how to play together and I think we’ll do well.”
The girls were meant to open their season with a home game Friday against Clatskanie but the game was canceled due to weather. They’re scheduled to play at 4 p.m. Saturday against Irrigon. After that they’re on the road until a Jan. 4 matchup against Triad. Opening with Clatskanie, a 3A school from the Lewis and Clark League, is a tough way to start the season for the 1A Hawks in what is the toughest preseason the team has seen.
“We always end up getting a tough schedule because of the boys team,” Leeson said. “But that’s okay; it’s good to have tough competition. It makes us better.”
In their pre-season schedule the girls will also play 3A Dayton twice, 3A Horizon of Tualatin and 5A Hood River Valley High School (Jan. 3, 7 p.m. at HRVHS). 1A Big Sky League games start with a home game Jan. 10 against Central Christian.
Leeson says he is confident the girls will improve on last year’s 4-9 conference, 7-16 overall record. With a makeup of three juniors — Hannah Kemp, Hannah Lingel and Trista Hicks — one sophomore and eight freshmen, success will depend on the leadership of more experienced players in what is clearly a foundation-building season for the team.
“Hannah Kemp is our returning point guard and will have a huge role this season,” Leeson said. “Hannah Lingel has great prowess and a strong understanding of the game, and Trista can be a dominating force on the court when she gets into the right mindset. The girls seem to have a tight bond, so I’m anticipating a lot of fun this year. They’re also very coachable, which is going to be very valuable as the season goes on.”