Girls hoops squad shows experience, drive

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

It’s a new season in a new league for the Sweet Home High School girls basketball team, and they bring some experience to the table.

The team returns five seniors, Tabby Trahan, Sara Brocard, Makenzie Marchbanks, Michelle Aerni and Erika Snow, and junior Ashley Danielson.

New varsity players are juniors Jessalyn Seiber, Nicole Fagan, Becky Spencer and Alex Thompson and sophomores Paige Niemi and Jenny Hamn.

“We’ve got quite a few kids that have played,” Coach Jason Gorham said. “The seniors, for the most part, have contributed to varsity since they were sophomores.”

With two years of experience, they bring confidence to the floor, Gorham said, and they’ll provide leadership.

“They’re really motivated to have a successful senior year,” Gorham said.

“They’re a strong, tight-knit group that enjoys seeing each other do well and pushing each other to do better.”

While starters are not set yet, Gorham said, positions are established.

Trahan will run point for the team, he said. “That’s kind of a new role for her. She’s excited about the challenge and being a leader on the floor.”

Trahan played wing last year but backed up Hannah Swanson at point.

Snow and Aerni will play at the wings, Gorham said. Both had a really good summer. “They’re starting to find their roles on this team,” Gorham said. “Coming off the bench last season, they’re finding a role this year.”

Gorham also looks to both to play good defense as well as finding shots within the offense and putting some points on the board. Both have improved their shot.

Marchbanks and Brocard will work the post, Brocard more in the low post and Marchbanks more in the high post, depending on the play.

“Makenzie is more of a face-up kind of player where Sara’s going to be with her back to the basket most of the time,” Gorham said.

Both are good post defenders, and he is looking for them to pull down the boards, he said.

The active and athletic Seiber is expected to bring impact off the bench, Gorham said.

Hamn had a really good summer season and, at 5-11, is the team’s tallest player, he said. She has developed some good post skills.

“Jenny Hamn as a sophomore has really developed well,” he said.

Danielson will play on the wing and back Trahan up at point guard, Gorham said. She also is the team’s best three-point shooter. She’ll help spread defenses and open up the paint for inside offense.

Niemi is a “really good all-around player,” Gorham said. She can handle the ball and shoot, and she’s taller than the wings the Huskies have had in the past.

Thompson will play mostly at wing, Gorham said. “She’s really worked hard to develop her shot.”

She just needs to gain some experience and confidence, he said.

Fagan and Spencer will split time with junior varsity.

In the ValCo League, “the last few years, Philomath has been the strongest team,” Gorham said. “They’re young but have a lot of kids and a strong tradition.

“Central typically fields a pretty strong team,” generally second place in league and making the state playoffs.

“I think Newport could surprise some people,” Gorham said. “They picked up a couple of transfers.”

Taft struggled and then won a league championship before moving back to the bottom of the league’s rankings.

“I feel like we’re going to fit in and be competitive in this league,” Gorham said. Like Taft, his team has struggled in the past and has some baggage to overcome.

“I think that’s where this group of seniors is willing to push past that,” Gorham said.

“They’re not willing to use that as an excuse.”

They’re motivated to make the Huskies a better team, he said.

Game play “is going to be similar to what we’ve had in the past,” Gorham said. “We’ve always tried to make it more up-tempo.”

At times, the team did that last year, Gorham said. “I think Tabby’s going to really help us this year.”

Defensively, the Huskies will mix up a lot of combinations and keep their opponents guessing, he said. The Huskies will mix man and zone defense and stick to what works in each game.

The Huskies have two junior varsity teams. JV one is coached by Chad Christensen in his second year.

Anne Knight will coach JV two, which has freshmen and sophomores.

Blayne Watkins is assisting Gorham. Watkins was one of the players on the 1999 boys’ team that finished second at state, and he has played ball at Linn-Benton Community College.