Girls’ Basketball Preview: Veteran team expecting big things
A quick glance down the 2007-08 Douglas High School girls’ basketball roster gives off the impression that coach Werner Christen just photocopied last seasons and submitted it this year.
He might as well have.
The Tigers return all five starters from last year’s Sierra League third place finishers, along with five of their top seven off the bench.
“There’s no question, we’re a veteran team,” Christen said. “We have a lot of kids coming back.
“We told them to enjoy every minute of this. It’s been a long road. We want the season to go real slow because we really enjoy these kids. Hopefully it will be a long, fun season.”
To supplement the open spots, Douglas added five upperclassmen who have been in the program for at least two years.
“This is the oldest team I’ve ever coached,” Christen, who has compiled a 157-104 record in nine seasons with the Tigers, said. “We don’t have any sophomores or freshman, and I’ve never had that before. Our seniors will be the key to leading us through this season.”
The wealth of experience (Douglas has six players entering their third year with the program and one entering her fourth) has brought with it plenty of benefits.
“We haven’t had to spend as much time teaching,” Christen said. “With a team like this you can throw in a couple different sets. We can review the old stuff and polish it up and try a couple new things. It’ll be fun. We’ll work hard and see what happens.”
At the center of it all will be junior post player Jessica Waggoner, who at 6-1 averaged 11.9 points per game last season and earned first-team all-regional and all-league honors.
Bridget Maestretti, a second-team all-leaguer last year, enters her fourth season with the Tigers as the point guard, although she has seen time at shooting guard over the years as well.
She averaged 5.6 points per game last year and has been getting recruiting contacts from a number of four-year schools, including Nevada.
“Bridget will be a focal point for us,” Christen said. “But we won’t have any stars so to speak. Everyone is going to understand their roles and some of our positions will be two- or three-headed monsters. We have a lot of depth coming into the year and that is a luxury.”
Juniors Taryn Williams and Danyelle Heidt are the returning starters in the front court after coming on strong through the second half of last season and seniors Lisa Christen, Sarah Hartley , Allie Hughes and Katie Buffo will be high in the backcourt rotation.
The strong returning core is rounded out by seniors Nicole Didero and Gina Pfaffenberger, who both saw significant improvement in the front court last season.
New to the team will be senior Sara Phillips and juniors Ally Freitas, Maci Pfaffenberger, Jessica Gorton and Helen Fillmore, who helped lead the junior varsity squad to an 18-6 record overall last season.
“We really have a nice balance,” Christen said. “There is a lot of veteran leadership, but we have some new and exciting players who are really going to help us this season.”
Overall, Christen said the team’s focus this year will be on defense.
“We have to be good on defense because that is what we are going to look to in order to create our offense,” Christen said. “We want people after the games to say, ‘That was a heck of a team we just played.'”
The Tigers are coming off a brilliant summer campaign which they were able to close out by winning 12 of their last 14 summer league games.
“We’ve improved our shooting a lot,” Christen said. “That should boost our offense quite a bit. We worked on some new wrinkles this summer that were pretty successful and we’re excited about that.”
On top of all that, the bulk of the Tigers’ roster is coming off successful fall seasons in either volleyball or soccer.
Of Douglas’ 15 players heading into the season, four played for Douglas’ Northern 4A Regional runner-up and Sierra League champion volleyball team and five played on the Tigers regional semifinalist girls’ soccer team.
“It’s always been the case here that a lot of these kids aren’t basketball players,” Christen said. “It’s the sport they do in between their favorite sports. Because of that, we’ve always gotten good athletes, but I bet if you ask most of the girls out here what their favorite sport is, they wouldn’t say basketball.”
Douglas opens its season at the Lowry Invitational, as it has for the last several seasons, and then picks up the next week with the High Sierra Winter Classic in Reno.
“The Lowry tournament is always good because there is nothing for the girls to do there except bond with each other,” Christen said. “It’s a great team-builder and we always get to see a couple of good teams out there.”
The Tigers will be at home for most of December as they’ll host Galena, Lowry, Fallon, Wooster and Elko before heading to the Las Vegas Holiday Classic just after Christmas.
From there, Douglas will launch into the thick of the league schedule.
“It’ll be a tough league this year,” Christen said. “Reno and Carson will be good, just like always and Hug will be very good and they just keep getting better.
“North Valleys and Wooster both have new coaching staffs, so they are unknowns, but they have some talented kids, so it’ll be a battle.”