Saints ready to start the season
The Mt. Hood Community College women's basketball team has turned in repeat playoff trips, but the task of making it three in a row will fall to a young squad this winter.
The Saints are without their top seven leading from last year's unit.
Returning sophomores Bri Rosales, Mina Sete and Emily Webber combined to make 15 starts. And the team's other sophomore Tatyana Lyles is coming off her redshirt season.
"Obviously we want to continue what we have developed over the past couple years, but when I look at teams who could win it all I see three of those teams in the South," Mt. Hood coach Jeremy Vanderboer said. "We're going to have seven teams battling for four playoff spots. I'm excited about the direction of our program. My biggest question is 'Are we consistently getting better and moving forward?'."
Rosales is the team's top returning scorer after putting up 5.6 points largely in a support role last season.
"She's a multi-purpose guard, who can shoot it and drive the ball," Vandenboer said. "She's moving from a more limited role to now sliding into being more of a key contributor."
Lyles got 13 starts and averaged 7.4 points per game as a rookie two years ago.
"She's in her third year in the program, and she's older and more mature," Vandenboer said. "She's a lefty 3-point shooter, who likes to slash to the basket."
Lyles is also the team's defensive stopper, putting pressure on the ball at the top of the Saints' full-court press.
Among the rookies, look for Rose Gwillim to provide a scoring punch after being named to the 4A all-state team, while guiding Baker High to the state title last year.
"We are going to look under every rock from Portland to Southern Oregon to Utah to Alaska," Vanderboer said. "We're looking for players who are the total package — school, basketball and character."
Ashley Parry out of Westlake High in Utah is expected to fill the point guard spot, while Kelsey Higgins out of Skyview High in Idaho adds another shooter.
The Mt. Hood men's team is under the direction of new head coach Nate Bowie, who is a former junior college player himself putting up 20.8 points per game at Colby Community College in Kansas. He went on to play at Central Arkansas where he on the Southland Conference scoring title his senior year.
He has played in the NBA G-League (D-League at the time) as well as overseas. This is his first head coaching job, moving up after being an assistant with the Saints.
Mt. Hood looks to get a boost from Barlow High graduate Leonard Dixon, who is in his third year with the program. He put up a team-high 53 points over two games to open the season at a tournament put on by Portland Community College. He is joined by another Barlow graduate in sophomore Austin Forrar.
The Saints continue to have a strong pipeline into Las Vegas, which six players on this year's roster list as their hometown. Most notable out of that mix may be rookie guard Davion Stringer, who knocked down four 3-pointers in the team's 100-72 win over Pierce.
This season preview is slated for our Tuesday, Nov. 26, print edition.
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