The Wilsonville girls basketball program recently capped a busy summer participating in tournaments, incorporating new players, traveling to San Diego and growing closer as a team.
The Wildcats competed in tournaments at Prairie High School and George Fox University and won about half of their games in both tournaments in June.
They also hosted Lincoln and Tualatin for a summer practice session in which each team had a chance to run their offensive and defensive schemes repeatedly against live competition.
"It's always fun to compete against other schools. You can adjust and prepare for how this team will play defense. I love the format and I think we get so much value out of it," Wilsonville head coach Justin Duke said.
The Wilsonville team brings back all-league players in Cydney Gutridge and Teagan McNamee and also brings in La Salle transfer Reese Timm, Sandy transfer Hannah McKinney and freshmen Sydney Burns and Emilia Bishop.
Duke doesn't foresee many changes schematically from last year to this year but says he might move around pieces more often.
"A lot of our base stuff stays the same. We will move kids with increased skill sets to different positions. Teagan probably will play more positions than one wing spot. Sydney Burns is a pretty good ball handler and can give Cydney the opportunity to play off the ball and make her less predictable. We have a lot of interchangeable pieces," Duke said.
Duke lauds the team's depth this year.
"Our practices are going to be so much more competitive. The talent gap isn't going to be as big as it has been in the past," he said.
Timm and McKinney join the team one year after McNamee transferred from Sherwood High.
"All of those families are moving to Wilsonville. It's the same reasons I was drawn there. It's a neat community, great place to attend school and they see the value in that. Wilsonville continues to grow and is close to I-5 too," Duke said.
In Duke's first two summers at the helm, the Wildcats did not travel outside of Oregon. This year, players expressed interest in an overnight trip and Duke had heard about the Oregon City team traveling to San Diego for a camp. So Duke researched the proposition and asked parents and athletes whether they would be interested in a trip South. After they agreed, Duke signed the team up for a camp at University of California-San Diego. Eighteen athletes as well as family and friends made the trip in late June. Going against teams from across the Western United States, the varsity team won 2-of-4 games and the junior varsity team went 3-3.
"Nobody blew us out and the competition was stiff. If you're going to make that commitment you're probably a pretty good program," Duke said.
Players also received instruction from college coaches and listened to a professional speaker who specializes in communication and body language and discussed the anniversary of Title 9 — a piece of legislation that sparked the rise of women's sports in the United States. They also attended a San Diego Padres baseball game and stayed in a hotel together.
"It was a unique experience," Duke said. "It was more about team chemistry and bonding and growing that familiarity. They came together and are a little bit closer than were before."
Wilsonville players won't practice together for the rest of the summer but some will participate in strength and conditioning training at the high school.
For Duke, the summer session was fast but productive.
"We do it pretty quickly. It's over in four weekends. Now we're through that. We have the basketball piece done and they can move on and choose to do what they want to do the rest of the summer," Duke said.