Over the past two seasons, the Cottage Grove girls basketball program has been dominant over the Sky-Em league losing one league game over that span and earning two league titles.
But despite the success in league, the girls have a chip on their shoulder heading into this season wanting more success in the postseason after their playoffs were cut short because of COVID-19 in 2020 and losing to Valley Catholic last season.
“I think our players kind of have this uneasy feeling like we’re about to unleash the beast and they have a chip on two shoulders,” said second-year Head Coach Erin Royse. “We really want to be out there and play, have fun, and have a chance of getting back to where we were. It’s gonna be a lot different this year there are other teams in our league that are going to be really tough to compete against. And you know, Marist and JC return a lot of kids that have a lot of basketball experience. It’s gonna be tough this year in our league all the way across the board.”
Despite losing seniors Matty Ladd, Mikaela Bloomquist, and Alexia Riggs coach Royse still feels very confident in her players returning along with her new offensive game plan.
“We’re going to be changing kind of style of play more up-tempo, just to kind of go along with the type of players we have we don’t have a lot of bigs anymore,” said Royse. “We just have Gracie (Arnold) and she has the versatility to allow us to do things in a different tempo. Not that we couldn’t do that last year but this is a year that we’re going to need to be faster to be successful. So looking more to transition and with that, we have speed with Kennedy (Sturman-Royse) who loves to get out ahead and Teanna Child also gives our team a different look than we had last year.”
With recent success from the Cottage Grove girls basketball program Coach Royse is telling her players to lean into the expectations and continue to push themselves to be the best players they can be.
“When you’re a program that has had success, you expect success. And we do, our players do. And they’re willing to work for it,” said Royse “And we just need to start getting after it, it’s going to be a very different challenge this year. Last year, I don’t feel like there are a lot of teams that could stop our big players. And we had shooters that could balance things out, Royce added. Losing Matty Ladd and Mikaela Bloomquist and our other seniors. It always affects the team and you lose but those are premium players on a team that did really well we’re losing about 20 points a game there. And fill that in our players are going to need to step up.”
After Halle DeGarlais sustained a knee injury last year, returning seniors Gracie Arnold, Teanna Child, Emma Hitt, and Kennedy Sturman-Royse will look to shoulder the load along with up and coming teammates.
Sophomores from a season ago who are now juniors will get an opportunity to step up Logan Zolezzi, Jerzie Epperson, and Adrianna Glenn will look to continue their development and help the Lady Lions look for their third league title in as many years.
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