West Linn girls ready to compete again in Three Rivers League race
In a lot of ways, the West Linn girls basketball team is starting fresh for the 2018-19 season.
After all, the team graduated four prominent seniors — three of them all-Three Rivers League players — from a team that finished second in the Three Rivers League, third in the state and also saw head coach Jared Curtiss resign at the end of the season.
But anyone who thinks West Linn will be "down" in 2018-19 have another thing coming.
The 2018-19 Lions return seven players from last year's varsity team (a group led by all-league, all-state and all-tournament sophomore post Aaronette Vonleh) and new head coach Brooke Cates isn't exactly "new" — she was West Linn's varsity assistant last season, and before that, served as Canby's head coach from 2011-16.
"We would like to finish in one of the top two spots in the Three Rivers League," Cates said. "We are a very young team, (but) if we grow and mature mentally, emotionally and physically as a group, we should be in the running."
And why not? The Lions have one of the best young post players in the state in Vonleh (6-foot-4), a player who was named first-team all-league, second-team all-state and second-team all-tournament a year ago. Also slated for leadership roles are sophomore point guard Cami Fulcher (5-8) and junior wing Elisabeth Dombrow (5-9).
"The (players) selected captains by their teammates are Cami Fulcher and Elisabeth Dombrow — (they) both bring a lot of positive energy to the court," Cates said. "They lead by their work ethic and their coachablility. We are also fortunate to have many other team leaders as eight players received votes to be captain."
Also slated for regular playing time are 5-10 senior post Riley Drullinger, 5-11 junior post Vanessa Viuhkola, 5-9 sophomore guard Audrey Roden, 5-5 senior point guard/wing Katie Schoenborn and 5-7, sophomore guard Payton Shelstad.
"We are young. We are a young, talented group, but all the girls work," Cates said after she was hired last summer. "We don't have girls who take plays off. They're very coachable and they're just gym rats — and we have great chemistry."
Also ready for varsity time this year are 5-6 freshman guard Isabella McVicker, 5-7 freshman guard Alana Molden, 5-7 freshman guard Olivia McVicker, 5-4 sophomore guard Jordyn Selleh, 5-10 freshman post Campbell Sheffield and 5-11 freshman post Audrey Kehoe.
Two other potential returners — senior Alyx Burkhartzmeyer and sophomore Makayla Long — chose not to play high school basketball this season.
While the Lions will likely take some time to find their footing after the graduation of all-league seniors Lexi Pritchard, Kennedi Byram and Brooke Landis (as well as Lizzy Herrick), Cates is confident that they will eventually be able to battle the league's best.
"I think Tigard will compete for the league title as they return pretty much everyone and have a very experienced and talented senior-heavy team," Cates said.
• To read the Lake Oswego girls team preview, click here.
• To read the Lakeridge girls team preview, click here.