By Ray Hamill — Changes are in the air for the Eureka girls basketball team this season, in more ways than one.
This winter, Michael Harvey takes over as head coach from Clifford Napoleon, and the experienced coach is making some small changes he hopes will help this year’s team challenge for a league crown and more.
“I think we have lots of talent, and I think putting it together and playing as a cohesive team is going to be important for us,” Harvey said.
One of the biggest differences this season will be a tougher pre-league schedule, with trips to the Harlan Carter Tournament in Redding and the Lincoln tournament in San Francisco.
“We changed our schedule around to make it a little tougher,” Harvey said.
The Lincoln tourney in mid-December will be particularly challenging for the Loggers, with some top Division-I teams scheduled to appear.
“Our goals are basically to prepare ourselves to win league the best we can,” the head coach said. “And to get back to (the) Niclai (tournament).”
Strong senior class
Key to achieving those goals will be the play of a strong senior class, including the team’s three senior co-captains — Makaila Napoleon, Dorshaela Wesson and Paige Lyons.
Napoleon and Wesson are both four-year varsity players and bring plenty of experience to the table.
“Makaila is one of the best players in the county, if not the best,” Harvey said. “I have high expectations for her.
“Dorshaela is a really good team leader for us. And we expect big things out of her at the guard position.”
Lyons is in her second season with the varsity team but has quickly become an integral part of the team and one of the Loggers’ most complete players.
“She’s the glue player that can do it all,” the head coach said. “She plays defense, she has a nice shot, she can score inside, she can score from the perimeter. She can do it all.”
High basketball IQ
Napoleon and Lyons are both coming off a standout campaign on the volleyball court, where they helped the Loggers end a long league title drought with a Big 5 championship, a feat they’ll be hoping to replicate on the basketball court for a loggers program that has not won a Big 5 crown since sharing the title with Arcata in 2015.
And Harvey believes he has the roster to achieve that, and a group of players that understand the game.
“They are a fun group of ladies who know the game of basketball,” Harvey said. “They have a high basketball IQ, and they work hard.”
Karyn Jensen, Ayana Watson and Tiana Rodgers round out a six-player senior class that has impressed the new head coach.
“It’s a great senior class with great leadership,” Harvey said.
A pair of juniors are also expected to play a big role this season, point guard Sophia Chalmers and center Carly Boynton, each of whom started in Tuesday’s season-opening win at Hoopa.
Another junior Kellina Pratton will also see plenty of time at point guard and has looked strong early.
The Loggers defeated Hoopa 65-37 to open the season with 11 of the 12 available players scoring.
It was part of a busy week for the Eureka girls, who spent Thanksgiving volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul kitchen in Eureka, serving 700 meals.
“It was incredible,” Harvey said. “We had all three teams attend, for food preparation, for serving, and for clearing up tables. The girls were pumped.”
The Loggers play their alumni game on Saturday night, and will play a good Liberty program to open the Arcata girls tournament on Thursday night at 8:30.