Youth is the way Coach Dan DeRoss plans to build his Weed High School Girl’s Basketball team this season. He believes with the year’s added experience, the younger players will improve on their 13-14 season last year, which included a 4-8 record in league, where they had a five game skid.
The Cougars have one returning senior, Lori Garcia, and three juniors who were brought up last season: Nicolette Neel, Amanda Greene and Sierra Skeen.
“Our goal is to make it to playoffs and improve on the first round loss we had last year,” DeRoss stated. “This is an exciting and young team.”
In order to do this, the Cougars will have to concentrate on beating teams in Division Five. If a win comes against a higher division, that’s just a perk for them. In the Shasta Cascade League, there are two Division Five teams – Mount Shasta and Trinity – and a split with them this season would help their chances.
DeRoss doesn’t have a lot of depth or speed this season, but he’s hoping to make up for that with a great defense, taking care of the ball, and consistent scoring.
“We aren’t slow, but we aren’t fast,” DeRoss said. “Hopefully by the end of the year the girls will be in such great shape, they’ll have more speed.”
This year, DeRoss lost one of his best players, senior Rita Kenesockkhamsen, who was the team’s leading rebounder, scorer, and stealer.
DeRoss has been working on four offensive aspects which he feels his team needs to improve on: moving the basketball while cutting down turnovers, developing five players that can score, post players, consistency with outside shooting.
He admits that his team last year wasn’t offensive, but said if he can develop offense this year to add to the defense, his team will be in the thick for a league title.
Garcia will be looked up to for her leadership and is expected to take a bigger part in team offense. She wasn’t a huge scorer for the Cougars last season but was one of the leaders in rebounding – with 4 a game – and 30 steals.
Neel, Greene and Skeen are going to have to up their game if the Cougars want to head into the post season.
Neel and Greene have speed,  as they demonstrated during the Homecoming Powder Puff game this fall. Both girls averaged 7.7 points per basketball game in 2007. Neel had 47 steals and averaged four rebounds a game, and Greene was second with 6.1 rebounds per game average.
Skeen is going to be a force in the middle, where she had a dominating past season forcing defense to change their shots. She averaged 5.7 points and six rebounds per game, and had 12 blocked shots.
Newcomers Madison Moser and Mindi Chandler are going to have to find their place early, since they may see a slot of playing time off the bench. Both are good athletes and once they understand the system should contribute well.
Moser is participating in both basketball and wrestling this year and Chandler was a top performer in volleyball.
“We are going to have growing pains, but we have plenty of games to prove ourselves,” DeRoss said.
Weed has improved their strength of schedule from last year, adding Del Norte, Klamath Union and Redding Christian to their preseason schedule.
The Cougars open their season with a home game against Butte Valley on Tuesday, Dec. 2.