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After finishing second last season and securing a place in postseason, Molalla aims for league crown

PIONEER PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Molalla freshman Ruby Burge moves through the Country Christian defense into the paint in the home opener. Molalla wound up winning 63-21 at the end of the night. 
Coach: Phil Wiesner

2017-18: 13-12

Key losses: Sierra Cox, Hailey Holas, Alicia Schultz, Bryana Brinkman

Key returners: Mattie Myers, Hannah Fincher, Samara Nacoste, Madeline Lisac, Zoe Wood

Outlook: Two years ago, the Molalla girls' basketball team stormed the Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) en route to a league championship. Last year, the 2017-18 season saw the team secure second in the TVC with a 6-3 record, as well as a play-in victory against the Cowapa League's Astoria. Though they were quickly ousted from the playoff bracket by Hidden Valley, Molalla aims to reach the postseason once again.

Returning to the squad to lead are seniors Mattie Myers (second team all-league), Hannah Fincher, and Samara Nacoste. The three seniors will be joined by junior Madeline Lisac and sophomore Zoe Wood, both of whom received TVC honorable mentions. Other returning varsity athletes are sophomore Jackie Parker and sophomore Kaityn Curry.

Molalla girls basketball head coach Phil Wiesner will look to the three seniors to lead the mix of new and returning players to success in the regular season.

"Our leaders will be our seniors Myers, Nacoste, & Fincher," Wiesner said. "They are mature (and) know what it takes to be successful and lead by example. We're going to be a very balanced team and it will difficult for teams to just focus on one or two players."

The teams to watch out for once league play starts up will be Madras, Gladstone, and TVC debutante North Marion. Madras was last year's TVC champ with a 10-0 league record, and Gladstone was tied up with Molalla at a 6-3 record. North Marion finished third in the Oregon West Conference and 20-9 overall. The Huskies advanced all the way to the state semifinals.

"Going into the season North Marion has the inside track with great guard play and experience at those positions," Wiesner said. "They went deep in the state tourney last year. Madras has a lot of great shooters that are tough to defend and will be in the (title) conversation. They have a new coach this year (so) we'll have to wait and see what if any difference that will make. Gladstone is always right there, they are in their second season with their new coach and have some very athletic players.

"There will not be any nights off I'm sure of that."

After finishing last season in second place, and after winning league the prior year, Wiesner is confident in the team's chances this upcoming season. With a large influx of young talent to draw from, Molalla will be able to field three teams this season. Madras will be the only other team in the league to boast three teams program wide.

"While many other programs aren't able to field three teams any more on a regular basis, even at the 5A and 6A level, we have the highest turnout this season of the 6 the our coaches and I have been here," Wiesner said. "We have a great bunch of young ladies to work with and should field three very competitive teams. The girls will be fun to watch and we hope to see a lot of the community come out and support them."

First Game: Nov. 28 @ Kennedy 5:30p, Loss 46-69

The girls' team bounced back from a loss to 2A standout Kennedy with a lopsided win over the defending 1A champion Country Christian 63-21. In that Curry led the team scoring with 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. The home team was too much for the visiting Cougars in the paint, and ran away with it in the second half, outscoring the opposition 31-11 in the second 16 minutes.

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