In the midst of a currently undefeated league season, The Sentinel sat down with six members of the Cottage Grove Lions (16-5 overall, 8-0) girls basketball team — sophomore Gracie Arnold, juniors Alexia Riggs, Matty Ladd and Mikaela Blomquist and seniors Megan Schatz and Ema Gardner — to get to know them better and discuss the success they’ve had thus far in the 2019-20 season.
Q: What makes this season special?
Mikaela Blomquist: We played sports together when we were younger, we’ve been on the same basketball teams multiple times and last year was kind of a hot mess, so this year we actually came together. Everyone has really good chemistry and everyone has a really good bond, just in a positive place.
Alexia Riggs: The chemistry between us is strong on and off the court. No matter what, we’re always close.
Matty Ladd: Last year was definitely the year where we learned how each other played and how to work with each other. So, this year we’re just having fun, just playing basketball. This year, if one person scores, it’s the whole team scoring. It’s a whole different environment.
Q: Was there anything preseason that gave you an idea of the success you’re having this year?
Riggs: Summer ball we got really excited and just went out there and played. We didn’t worry about anything, our record or getting to state. We just went out there and played then, at one point, we’re like, ‘Hey, we’re kinda good!’.
Megan Schatz: I would say it was our last tournament up in the Portland area last summer. I feel like that tournament it kinda clicked with us that we can actually show that we’re good and we can win and go on to state.
Q: Have you achieved your goals yet this year?
Blomquist: We’re starting to. We lost our main scorer, main rebounder from last year, but I feel like losing her opened up a spot for all of us. We relied on her a lot, but this year Ema’s in there, Matty’s in there, Gracie’s in there. We’re all just doing our best and it opened up a lot.
Ladd: I feel like losing her kind of made us have to come together more. It gave us a challenge we had to work around, but now we don’t even worry about it.
Blomquist: Last year we had no chemistry at all, so that’s one of our biggest things that we’ve overcome.
Gracie Arnold: It’s really fun now to play on the court with all these girls.
Riggs: We have little goals along the way, but obviously we have that main goal of going to state. That’s what we wanna accomplish as a team. But we have to get to our little goals first, maximize ourselves in practice, come to our games and show up and play at maximum effort to get to our bigger goals.
Arnold: Steve always says our next game is our most important game.
Ema Gardner: I think that was one of the biggest things, that we all have to look at each other and realize it’s not just one of us anymore. It’s all of us and not one of us can win it. It has to be all five of us.
Q: Would you say you have a team leader?
Gardner: I think each and every one of us has our moments, but we all step up. It’s not just one person that’s continuously doing it.
Riggs: I think we all have a different way we can talk to the team. I’m really good with talking to the whole program. Ema’s really good with on-court direction … we all have a way of communicating with each other.
Arnold: We’re just always talking, constantly communicating.
Q: Who’s your inspiration on the basketball court?
Gardner: I just play, but I’ve always had my dad on the outside pushing me to be my best so I definitely use him.
Ladd: Definitely my grandpa for me.
Riggs: I think Reed Levings. She’s kinda been in all our lives for quite some time and she’s on the board in the gym, a state champion in 2010, so we look up there thinking, ‘do you wanna be up there too?’. She always watches our games, tells us how to improve. On the court, she’s a great coach and off the court she’s an inspirational leader.
Schatz: Draymond Green because he may not score that much, but he helps the team in other ways whether that’s defense, assisting, rebounding, all that stuff.
Arnold: I’d say my dad is my inspiration in sports. He always pushes me to be better, but he’s always there for me to fall back on and he just really makes sure I love the sport.
Q: Can you tell me something about yourself outside of sports?
Gardner: I like to lay in my bed.
Riggs: I’m in clubs. I’m in FBLA and Green Club, so I do a lot of stuff on the weekends.
Blomquist: I do the Teacher Cadet program because I like to hang out with the little kids.
Ladd: The only time we really have is Saturday, so it’s a lot of just school and sports.
Q: Now for a more random question. Who’s the funniest person on the team?
Blomquist: It depends. We’re all funny in our weird, goofy ways.
Ladd: We all just kinda add on to each other.
Blomquist: Ema’s probably the silliest.
Ladd: Ema will say something funny and then Alexia will just add something dumb.
Riggs: And then we’ll all just chime in on each other!