The girls basketball team knew this season was going to be important even before the first practice on November 9. The varsity is hoping to win their third consecutive conference title, second consecutive regional title, and set a record for most wins in the history of the program. With a new coach, the JV is already preparing for next year, anticipating the loss of the majority of the varsity team.
But six years ago, before Jeff Eimers arrived as head coach, many would never guess that the team would have such lofty season goals.
“The first team I coached … I had inherited a 45 game losing streak,” Eimers said. “The first two games I coached, I won, ending the 45 game losing streak. But we weren’t very good, and we only won seven games that first year … Last year [our record] was 17-7 … so we’re tied with the most wins ever in the program.”
In addition, the varsity team won their first conference title since 1972 at the end of their 2014 season, and won their second title last season.
“We are two time defending conference champs,” Eimers said. “We think we have a legitimate shot to win our side of the conference again, so that will certainly be the goal … We [also] won our regional last year, so the other goal would be to win the regional again this year.” In order to do this with this year’s team, Eimers has had to make adjustments to the team’s strategy.
“We’re going to have to [change the way we play],” Eimers said. “We’re not nearly as tall. We don’t have nearly the ball handlers that we’ve had in the past, so … we really have to work on the basics and things like that.”
While thinking about this year’s season, both Eimers and Derek Donaldson, the new JV coach, are looking ahead to next year.
“One of the things that is unusual about our varsity team: we have eight seniors,” Eimers said. Losing seniors year after year is typical of every sport, but rarely of this magnitude.
“In the game of girls basketball, you could check out almost all the teams in the state, and you’d be hard pressed to find as many as 10 teams with eight seniors on their team,” Eimers said. Donaldson said that this means that JV has to start getting ready.
“[A goal for this season is] to really to prepare ourselves. We believe that varsity definitely has a chance to win a third championship, so if that happens we want to make sure that [JV has] the framework for next year to go for four,” Donaldson said. Donaldson said that members of JV playing in varsity games would be good practice.
“We have 10 freshmen coming in who are going to have to learn the speed of high school basketball versus junior high basketball,” Donaldson said. “In addition, … we anticipate that it’s going to be a long season and some of these girls are going to have to contribute on the varsity level in some games, so we’d like to definitely be a positive influence there.”
By Maeve McKaig