A record of 5-4 through the preseason may not have been ideal for the HRV boys basketball team, but it has left quite a lot to be excited for come regular season play.

With key players Carson Flores, Noah Webster and German Diaz performing consistently at high level, the Eagles are slowly proving themselves as a formidable opponent.

“The key to making that strong play more consistent is to bring the right mindset every day,” said coach Chris Dirks. “I think from a scheme and talent standpoint, we will compete with everyone in our league; the difference is going to be the hustle.”

Competing with the other schools is one thing, but this team wants to reach new heights: Top league finish, a playoff seed, and a significant postseason run. To make the playoffs, the Eagles have to finish top three in league. There’s no guarantee for any team in the IMC, with every game offering the chance to throw a wrench in a team’s playoff run.

“Pendleton was at the top of the league for a while, and I think they are still the team to beat in our new league,” said Dirks. “We’ve seen some from the other teams as well and it seems like every game should be competitive. Down the line I believe we should be competing for the top three spots.”

The Eagles have played some great teams this preseason, and will see a similar amount of talent when they reach league in the next couple of weeks.

Whether this challenging preseason will prove to have prepared this boys team will come in time — hopefully by playoff time.

“Our younger players are getting better every day,” said Dirks. “We have been playing some good teams this preseason which is only going to help us in the long run. If we can stay focused at practice and limit our off days we will trend in the right direction. Our goal is to be playing our best basketball at the end of the regular season.”

The New Year marks a turning point for winter sports; the preseason wraps up and the regular season is on the horizon. Teams have practiced and trained for months at this point, adapting between losses and carrying momentum between wins. For the HRV girls basketball team, there’s a challenging season ahead, but still reason to hope.

“It’s definitely been a challenging preseason,” said coach Donnie Herneisen. “In addition to playing some of the better 5A/4A teams, we’re playing through more injuries than I’ve ever had on one team. However, that has given some other players an opportunity to grow and move into roles they never had before.”

Injuries are always an interesting factor of a team’s success or failure. They call into question the performance of a team in its current makeup and kindle hope through tough losses with the promise of improvement at their conclusions.

The Eagles have three starters out at the moment, and while other girls have stepped up like coach Herneisen said, the reality is that HRV has a significant hole in their roster.

“Getting healthy has to be a goal for us,” said Herneisen. “Other players have learned how to play without those starters on the court, and that has really helped us and allowed other players to develop confidence in their own game.”

This season is an important one for the Eagles. With the majority of their players made up by seniors, HRV will have a young varsity team next year, and possibly the year after that as well. Despite a tough preseason coming to a close, the Eagles have their heads high heading into league play.

“This team has a goal of making the playoffs, meaning finishing at least third in league, and that is going to require us upsetting a few teams,” said Herneisen.

The Eagles got off to a rough start last Thursday at the Vince Dulcich Tournament in Astoria, losing 47-26 against Centennial. Heading into the tournament, the HRV girls were in for a tough time: Four players are out with injuries and three others are on winter break vacation.

“With only seven players for the game, we didn’t have a very deep bench,” said coach Donnie Herneisen. “Girls got tired and we didn’t have fresh legs to bring in. Centennial hurt us early by pushing the pace, and we never recovered.”

The stunted roster depth has hurt the Eagles all season, and while frustrating, does lend itself towards hope later as the season develops and players return. The girls will have played last Friday and Saturday as well, neither of which had results available by the time of press, but will be mentioned in the next issue.

Top scorers for the Eagles were Dani Valle 10, Barrett Ihde 6 and Kaitlyn McNerney 4.

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