Sports

2013 girls basketball team previews

Auburn Riverside
Auburn Riverside's Brittni Williams drives past Auburn Mountainview's Allison Hammer.
— image credit: Rachel Ciampi/Reporter

Auburn Trojans

Coach: Adam Ladage, 4th year

Last Season: 9th in the SPSL North 4A with a 3-12 record, 5-15 overall

Last State Appearance: 2008, did not place.

Top Returners: Seandalyn Faleagafulu, senior, 5-5, guard.

Top Newcomers: Latrice Johnson, senior, 5-7, guard.

Outlook: The Trojans will look to fourth-year starter and SPSL North 4A honorable mention Faleagafulu to key the team at point guard. Johnson, who started her career at Auburn as a freshman before transferring to Decatur, is back in green and gold to help out.

"We play extremely hard and are beginning to understand our roles on the court," Ladage said. "We are not a very big team in height. We will have to rebound the ball from all five positions. If we can overcome some struggles with a lot of new faces on varsity this year and a lack of experience we could be a dangerous team and hard to play against."

Key Games: The Trojans close out their regular season this year with tough contests against Kentwood (Feb. 4) and Auburn Riverside (Feb. 6). If Auburn is on the bubble for a playoff spot, these two games against perennial powerhouses could make or break them.

Auburn Mountainview Lions

Coach: Dustin DePiano, 1st year

Last Season: 4th in the SPSL 3A with a 7-3 league record, 12-13 overall.

Last State Appearance: 2011, 6th place in state

Top Returners: Elli Alfrey, senior, 5-5, guard; Sammi DePiano, senior, 5-5, guard; and Allison Hammer, senior, 5-7, guard.

Top Newcomers: Brianna Zaragoza-Jones, sophomore, 5-4, guard.

Outlook: Although the team returns just three starters – DePiano, Hammer and Alfrey – experience should be a strength for the team, with eight seniors and a junior back from last year's varsity roster. First-year head coach Derek DePiano (who has been an assistant with the team the past four years) will look to capitalize on the team's quickness and athleticism to offset the Lions' lack of height.

"I expect us to compete in a very wide open SPSL 3A," DePiano said. "I think the league could be won by anyone this year, as I don't see a team that stands out from the others (including us). The lengthy nonleague schedule will tall a lot about who we and other teams in this league are."

Key Games: The Lions play Jackson in the ShoWare Shootout High School Basketball showcase at 9 a.m. Dec. 21 at the ShoWare Center in Kent. Also on tap for the LIons is a berth in the 23rd annual Surf 'N Slam San Diego Hoop Classic Dec. 26-31. Auburn Mountainview opens league play at 7:15 p.m. Jan. 7 against state-qualifier Enumclaw.

Notable: The Lions were last year's 3A Girls Basketball Academic State Champions.

Auburn Riverside Ravens

Coach: Derek Pegram, 1st year

Last Season: 2nd place in SPSL North 4A with 13-3 league record. 18-7 overall.

Last State Appearance: 2011. Three-time state champions (2010, 2008 and 2007)

Top Returners: Brittni Williams, junior, 5-6, guard; Simona Allen, senior, 5-10, forward; and Rachel Davey, junior, 5-7, guard.

Top Newcomers: Mckenzi Williams, freshman, guard; and Olivia Denton, freshman, guard.

Outlook: Last season the Ravens rampaged through the SPSL North 4A with just three losses, two to eventual 3rd place state 4A finisher Mount Rainier and one to Kentwood. The team was fueled by the play of all-league first teamer Shantell Jackson, second teamer Kendall Foster and led by Coach of the Year Tim Nelson. This year the Ravens return just three players with significant playing time from last season and have a new head coach in Pegram.

"With a first-year coach and four new varsity players, this year's Ravens are full of youth and excitement," said Pegram.

Auburn Riverside plays five of their first six games at home which will at least let the team gel in friendly environs.

"Being in such a deep league the Ravens hope to come together as the season goes along and fight for a playoff spot."

Look for senior all-SPSL North 4A honorable mentions Allen and Williams to lead the way.

Key Games: The Ravens will get an early measure of their season on Dec. 17 when they host Kentwood. After a trip to Juanita for a holiday tournament on Dec. 27-30, Auburn Riverside will open up the new year with a road game against Mount Rainier on Jan. 3.

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