After using the past couple seasons to build a foundation, this is the season both the Fossil Ridge and Poudre high school girls basketball teams have been looking forward to.
Young talent the past few years finally has experience and both teams are hopeful it translates into successful seasons in conference and at the state level. Both teams are receiving votes in the Class 5A coaches’ poll by The Denver Post.
Fossil Ridge, for instance, will have seven seniors to lead a team that last season advanced to the Sweet 16 of the Class 5A state playoffs. They also have a junior guard in Savannah Smith, who has played since she was a freshman and last year was the team’s leading scorer.
“Hopefully this is the year to make a deep run,” said Fossil Ridge coach Chad Salz, who took over the program last season. “We want to build off what we did last year.
“With me coming in, they had to learn tech technology and new offenses and defenses. We had to build from the ground up last year and the first practice this year we had that covered. We’re hopeful we can do better than last year.”
Poudre has a trio of juniors who have been starting since they were freshmen. The Impalas had a solid season a year ago, going .500 in the tough Front Range League and winning a game in the playoffs.
Leading the way is Myanne Hamm, a 5-foot-11 forward who averaged around 14 points last season. Twin sisters Ashley and McKenzie McDaniel also are two-year starters who can score, rebound and play solid defense.
“We’ve put the foundation down,” second-year Poudre coach Curtis Glesmann said. “We don’t need to change a lot; we need to tune things and get better at the little things.
“Those kids have taken on leadership roles and feel like it’s time to step up. We’re excited about the season.”
The Coloradoan looks at the girls basketball teams in the area with the second of its winter sports season previews:
* Coach: Kyle Tregoning, 11th season
* Last year: 16-9, 11-5 Front Range League
* Top players: Nicole Lange, sr.; Ashley Evans, sr.; Kasey Dietrich, sr. Payton Humpal, jr.; Austyn Casale, jr.
* Notes: The Lambkins tied for third in the conference last season, finishing behind Monarch and Legacy — the two teams to play for the Class 5A state championship . . . Collins reached the Sweet 16 before falling to Regis for a second year in a row in the playoffs. A season earlier, the Lambkins lost in the Final Four.
* Coach’s comment: “We’re are working hard and our goal is to compete every time we step on the court.”
* Coach: Chad Salz, second season
* Last year: 16-10, 9-7 FRL
* Top players: Savannah Smith, jr.; Gabby Smith, sr.; Lauren Roeling, sr.; Koree Willer, sr.; Haley Murphy, sr.
* Notes: The SaberCats return every player from last year’s team that tied for fifth in the FRL . . . Fossil Ridge won two games in the Class 5A playoffs before losing to Highlands Ranch in the Sweet 16.
* Coach’s comment: “The girls are so excited to get going this year, and try and build on what we accomplished last year. We have some great leadership this year with seven seniors and I think that is something that we lacked last year.”
* Coach: Curtis Glesmann, second season
* Last year: 15-10, 8-8 FRL
* Top players: Myanne Hamm, jr.; McKenzie McDaniel, jr.; Ashley McDaniel, jr.; Sara Fulmer, sr.; Whitney Hayes, sr.
* Notes: Poudre tied for seventh in the FRL with a .500 record last season . . . The Impalas won their first tournament game over Rampart before falling to Heritage in the second round . . . Hamm was a first-team all-FRL selection last season. She averaged 14 points as a sophomore . . . Ashley McDaniel averaged 7.0 points and twin sister McKenzie McDaniel led the team in rebounding.
* Coach’s comment: “We return six varsity players from last year and feel their experience and the addition of some up-and-comers give the team a legitimate chance to challenge for the league championship.”
* Coach: Todd Matkin,
* Last year: 17-9, 8-8 FRL
* Top players: Anna Ernst, jr.; Maddi DeBord, jr.; Kelcey Bedard, jr.; Wesley Bannister, so.;
* Notes: The Lobos tied for seventh in the FRL with a .500 record. They also reached the Sweet 16 of the state playoffs for the first time in five seasons. Rocky beat Littleton and Grand Junction in the playoffs before losing to Doherty.
* Coach’s comment: “We are extremely pleased and excited to see how quickly we can mature on the floor. The girls do a great job of pushing, encouraging and holding each other accountable in practices. Now it is time to build on that and mature as quickly as possible once games begin. As a program we cannot wait to get started together.”
* Coach: Gary Perko, fifth season
* Last year: 19-5, 12-2 Tri-Valley
* Top players: Korbyn Ukasick, sr.; Alysa Manicone, so.; Brooke Pemberton, so.; Aimee Jo Harris, sr.
* Notes: The Wizards lose only two players from a team that went to the Sweet 16 a year ago . . . Alysa Manicone and Brooke Pemberton, both sophomores, will be starters for their second season in a row . . . Windsor begins the season ranked 10th in Class 4A in The Denver post coaches’ poll.
* Coach’s comment: “We have good quickness and three returning starters. Our bench will have to come along as the year progresses. Losing only two players off team from last year and gaining valuable experience at the state tournament will be a big asset for the team this year.”
* Coach: Jo Packard, third season
* Last year: 10-13, 2-5 Mile High League
* Top players: Mariah Green, jr.; Micaela Bush, jr.; Heidi Friedrich, sr.; Carissa Lewis, sr.; Kassi Kuppinger, sr.; Anika Wallace, sr.
* Notes: The Eagles made a late run last season and advanced from districts into regional play for the first time since 2006.
* Coach’s comment: “We have a truly special batch of seniors who will provide tremendous leadership and we have the best shot we’ve had in a long time to go deep into playoff contention. We’ve got two key players coming back from severe knee injuries, so health will be the key, but we should be one of the best teams in our league and we plan on doing something extraordinary this season.”
* Coach: Jesse Morrill, first season
* Last year: 14-5 overall
* Top players: Molly Gillis, so.; Kayla Rhoads, so.; Tabby Baptista, sr.; Kati Werst, sr.; Hannah Ellis, so.
* Notes: The Eagles will be playing their first season as a sanctioned CHSAA program and will play in the Mile High League.
* Coach’s comment: “We have a great group of kids who will play hard and improve throughout the year. We have enough talent to make an impact in our first year in CHSAA.”
* Coach: Jim Porth, first season
* Last year: 18-4, 6-1 Mile High League
* Top players: Sarah Wallman, jr.; Preston Lienemann, so.
* Notes: Resurrection Christian advanced to regional play in Class 2A last season before falling to Peyton . . . The Cougars lost five seniors off last season’s team.
* Coach’s comment: NA
Follow reporter Jeff Bersch at twitter.com/Coloradoan_JB