File photo by Ben Mitchell
HRV Girls basketball went 6-14 last season and return seven players with varsity experience, including guard Hannah McNerney (above). McNerney was a top-three scorer for HRV last season.
The Hood River Girls basketball team finished last season with a 6-14 overall record and went 0-9 in Columbia River Conference play.
After another winless year in the CRC for the HRV girls, their five-year streak of winless basketball in CRC play continues.
The Eagles lost three seniors to graduation and through the first two weeks of practice it’s clear to second year Head Coach Donnie Herneisen that there’s an overall absence of size this year compared to last season.
“We will be a little bit smaller overall this season,” said Herneisen. “But we’re definitely more experienced.”
HRV returns three starters this year, including their two captains from last season: guards Emily Curtis (junior) and Hannah McNerney (senior). Curtis in the 2016-17 season was the lone all-league selection for the Eagles as she earned second team honors.
Along with Curtis and McNerney, senior forward Lauren Orr also returns to the starting lineup.
Halfway into last season, Haylee Baker, a junior guard for the Eagles this season, joined the starting lineup and now has her chance early this year to cement her name into the starting lineup for the 2017-18 season.
The experience Curtis, McNerney, Orr and Baker have at the varsity level benefits this team tremendously, but it’s the other girls who aren’t returning from the starting lineup last season with that varsity experience that could be an advantage for this year’s team.
Junior forward Barrett Ihde and guards Bailey Frazier and Lizzie Weekly all also have varsity level experience and that means seven of the 11 girls who make up this season’s varsity team have had significant time at the varsity level.
“We have the experience to win some games,” said Herneisen. “So we’d like to go out with an improved position in the final year of the CRC.
“Our non-league schedule gives us a great opportunity to get some early success before we get into CRC play,” said Herneisen. “Our best games in the CRC last year were against Pendleton, the eventual league champion.”
Last year, the Eagles were three points away from knocking off Pendleton in the CRC opener, “and we are a better scoring team this year,” said Herneisen.
Curtis, McNerney and Orr were the leading scorers for HRV last year and with all three returning, there’s no lack of confidence that this team will be able to go out and do more than just compete this season.
“I like the amount of experience we have returning, and the girls are working really hard in practice,” said Herneisen. “Our first game is coming up super-fast with very few practices beforehand, so it may take us awhile to gain cohesiveness. We were a much tougher defensive team last year, improving our defensive points per game by 10 points, but we will still need to improve that stat and our rebounding in order to have a lot of success. This team has a lot of potential and we’re very excited to get going.”
2017-18 HRV Varsity Roster
Haylee Baker, 5-7 junior guard (1), Daniela Valle, 5-3 junior guard (3), Emily Curtis, 5-9 junior guard (4), Sonja Joplin-Clay, 5-7 junior guard (10), Barrett Ihde, 5-9 junior forward (11), Bailey Frazier, 5-9 junior guard (12), Lizzie Weekly, 5-5 junior guard (13), Lauren Orr, 6-2 senior forward (14), Hannah McNerney, 5-10 senior guard (20), Breana Kelly, 5-7 junior guard (30), and Grace Meyers, 5-10 sophomore forward.
Last year was the first year since the formation of the CRC that Hermiston did not win the league outright, but that may have been a one-year hiccup. Pendleton won the league, but also lost a co-CRC player of the year in Hayley Greb. The other co-CRC POY was Hermiston’s Maddie Juul, who returns as a senior. Hermiston and Pendleton seem to be heavy favorites heading into this year. The Dalles is re-tooling after losing a ton of varsity players, but will be led by Jody Thomasian. The Dalles also has a new head coach, Brian Stevens, who won a league title as the girls varsity coach at Horizon.