Tip-off time for 2A girls hoops | PostIndependent.com

Tip-off time for 2A girls hoops

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

When the Titans take the court this season, they will have no one’s footsteps to follow. No history to repeat or expectations to live up to.

As the first varsity team at a new high school, they will just simply have to play. But it doesn’t mean they won’t be playing to win.

“I think we are going to surprise some people,” said Coal Ridge head coach Jackie Gaddis. “I think that one of the things we are hoping for is to go out and rock somebody’s world. I expect us to be competitive. We have everything in the world to gain and nothing to lose.”

Gaddis, who used to coach at Roaring Fork and has coached in the valley on and off for years, will be the team’s first head coach. Gaddis was so thrilled with the opportunity to coach the team, she came out of retirement to do it.

“I retired because I had five kids in school, a job and coaching was a lot. Then we moved to Glenwood and I saw the ad in the paper and was interested. I thought I was applying for the JV job when I went over there, but I ended up with varsity.”

Even though the team hasn’t been playing long, she is happy with her choice.

“I just love to see young women play this game,” Gaddis said. “It is just a great outlet.”

Tryouts for the brand-new team were held last week, and 17 girls came out. Kaitlin Mueller is one of those players and is excited to be part of the program.

“I love it,” Mueller said. “It’s going to be tough, but good.”

Gaddis said that a surprising amount of them were freshmen and that although a varsity team will be set, players could move up and down from varsity to junior varsity throughout the season.

“A lot of them will have to go both ways, but I don’t care,” Gaddis said. “I don’t care if you call it varsity or junior varsity, as long as they get to play.”

The Titans, who will be younger than every team they play considering they are only made up of freshmen and sophomores, will jump into their schedule Dec. 1-3 in the Cowboy Shootout in Meeker. The remainder of the schedule lists a mix of their new Class 2A District 5 League rivals and local junior varsity teams.

“It is hard to get into the schedule because everyone is already set with theirs, but it will be good to play some area JV teams, and when we move up to 3A next year, we can play their varsity teams,” Gaddis said.

As the Titans begin their fight through their initial season, Gaddis has already noticed something that will help them succeed.

“These girls are so passionate about the game ” that is one thing I won’t have to coach,” Gaddis said. “Coming in, I didn’t know how passionate they were going to be, but it’s there. We just need to fine-tune things and come together as a team.”

Despite being young and inexperienced and playing against older girls, Gaddis has one definitive goal this season.

“Not to be anyone’s doormat,” Gaddis said.

– Inaugural season: The 2005-06 season will be the team’s first.

– Where they stand: The Titans are a varsity team, made up entirely of freshmen and sophomores. They will compete in the Class 2A District 5 League this season and move up to the Class 3A Western Slope League in the 2006-07 season.

– What they have: 17 girls will play on the varsity and junior varsity teams.

– First game: Dec. 1-3 Brenda Patch Tournament at Roaring Fork High School

The challenge for the Grand Valley girl’s basketball team is staying competitive after losing seven players on a roster of 12.

Especially when those seven seniors helped lead the team to a Class 2A state tournament berth.

But that is what the Cardinals are aiming to do again this season, and not only do they want to be competitive, they want another shot at the state title.

“My goal is to get back to state,” said head coach Mike Johnson. “We still have a good team, and I expect us to win league and to fight to get back to state. I think we have got the kids to do it with.”

Johnson will enter his eighth year as head coach and this year. He has got five returners out of a pool of 26 girls who showed up to play in Grand Valley’s program.

“We’ve got some good experience,” Johnson said. “We’ve got our leading scorer from the postseason, Megan Johnson, who averaged 16 points per game in Districts, Regional and State last year. We’ve got a three-year starter in Melinda Johnson as well as some other good returning players.”

While the Johnsons (Megan and Melinda) will have varsity experience and provide leadership on the court, the team’s underclassmen will have to learn how to play at the varsity level in a hurry.

“Our sophomore class is really going to have to step it up, but I think they can,” coach Johnson said. They went undefeated in league last year at the JV level.”

Last season, Grand Valley focused on its inside game ” relying more on its height and depending on forwards and centers to do the majority of the scoring.

This season it will count on more of the same, but also strong shooting.

“Our biggest strength is size. We also shoot the ball very well,” coach Johnson said. “We are lacking in speed, but we have a lot of 5-8 and 5-9 girls.”

The Cardinals will have three weeks to prepare for their first games at the Cowboy Shootout in Meeker Dec. 1-3.

Last season, the Cardinals made it all the way to the state tournament, but lost 49-47 to Jefferson Academy in the first round.

But that wasn’t the last game they played ” they faced Nucla in the consolation semifinals and won 57-36, placing Grand Valley in the consolation finals.

But the Cardinals couldn’t end their season on a winning note, falling to Crowley County, 39-34.

The 2004-05 squad may have some differences from this year’s, but Johnson believes it could net the same outcome, one way or another.

“Last year we came out firing,” coach Johnson said. “This year it may take us a while to get going, but we’ve got the talent.”

– Record last season: 20-6 record, first-place finish in Class 2A District 5 League

– 2004-05 playoffs: The Cardinals qualified for the state tournament, but were knocked out in the first round when they lost 49-47 to Jefferson Academy.

– Seniors lost/starters returning: 7/5

– This year’s star: Look for senior Melinda Johnson, a three-year starter, to be a big player for the Cardinals.

– First game: The Cardinals will take the court for the first time Dec. 1-3 at the Cowboy Shootout in Meeker. Their first league game will be on Jan. 5 and Paonia.

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