By Ray Hamill — Basketball teams around the H-DNL officially began practice on Monday, with a shortened league season set to tip off in two weeks time.
The league will feature eights games per team over three weeks, with the first games scheduled for May 24.
Most H-DNL programs have been holding restricted open gyms of some type for the past few months, but were only given the green light to hold official practices beginning this week.
The Eureka girls have a slightly smaller than usual roster, with around 30 players on the three teams, but still expect to be competitive when play finally begins for the first time in 15 months.
“We have good quality out there at all three levels,” head coach Michael Harvey said. “And I think we’re going to be very good.”
The Eureka players, like many around the league, are just glad to be practicing again and looking forward to the opportunity to play some games after so much uncertainty regarding the season.
“They’re happy to be back,” Harvey said. “It’s a big chore getting all the testing done daily, but they were all really enjoying practice yesterday.”
Seniors Keylei Carroll and Bella Vigil are both back with the team and expected to provide some valuable leadership to the younger players, especially after such a long layoff.
Big things are also expected out of sophomore Claire Maples, who is also back from last year’s team, which won the Dick Niclai tournament before the COVID shutdown.
“She’s going to be a key contributor for us,” Harvey said of the standout sophomore.
While the team has been battling some injuries, Harvey is hoping to have most of his players available by the time the season begins.
“I think all the way down the roster, we’re really, really deep,” the head coach said.
That includes sophomore Aniah Gaither, who is expected to have a big impact at center, as well as talented all-around junior Ellie Pesch, who has “just improved so much,” according to Harvey.
As for what he expects from the rest of the Big 5, the Eureka head coach admits he’s not sure what to expect, although he says Del Norte with standout senior Jadence Clifton will be tough to stop.
The Loggers open the season at home to Arcata on May 24.