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As is the case with boys basketball, the Lion girls face a brief, frantic season.

PMG PHOTO: SCOTT KEITH - St. Helens High School girls basketball coach Kyle Brayton is gearing up for a short, game-packed month of prep hoop action. The St. Helens High School girls basketball team is in the same scheduling pickle as the Lions boys basketball squad: a lot of games crammed within a month's time.

"We've only had a handful of practices, and that's how the season is going to be," Kyle Brayton, girls basketball coach, said. "A lot of the girls are going to get their experience in the games, then in practice we can just try to fine tune what we can – it's going to be a very fast and furious kind of a season."

As of Thursday, May 27, the Lions have yet to log a win, having lost the first game against Hillsboro 39-24 and the second game against Putnam 60-28.

During a normal season, practices allow the girls to get some conditioning. Not so much this year.

"While some girls have played spring sports, some haven't been playing any sport and have just been trying to get in the gym in whatever way they can and getting back into basketball form," Brayton said. "We have about two hours together (in a practice). It's a lot we try to cover in that time, then it's off to a game."

Looking ahead to this season, Brayton admits it's hard to know which teams in the league will be tough.

"It's hard to say, because we don't really know what teams look like because of the pandemic," he said. "Everybody's kind of on the same playing field, because everybody is going through this kind of rushed season."

Brayton, however, is happy with the seniors he has this season.

"Our leader — defensively and offensively — is Maria Reardon," he said.

This is Reardon's fourth year of basketball. She has also played soccer, Brayton said.

"She's awesome," Brayton continued. "She's just a strong leader. She is always getting us going in practice and getting them excited during the game."

Maddie Blazek, according to Brayton, was hitting her stride last year.

"We're still trying to work on ways we can get her the ball and make her as efficient as possible," Brayton said. "She has good height and she's a great shooter."

Another standout senior is Hillary Barley, whom Brayton says has a great work ethic.

"We have Annalyssa Ridgeway, also a senior, a great leader," Brayton added. "She is also involved in leadership at the school. She is good with her post moves, getting rebounds, does a lot of the kind of dirty work that some of the other players don't want to do."

Sarah Vanderwerf, an underclassman, is quick and athletic, according to Brayton.

"We have a good group of freshmen girls," he said. "They are already seeing some varsity time. We heard about them at the middle school ... that they were really good in the eighth grade, and they have good chemistry and offensive firepower."

Looking at the season underway, Brayton said, "I am confident we will find our groove sometime here soon. These first few games, I feel like, have been kind of like tryouts. We are really getting the feel for their strengths and weaknesses."

Brayton continued, "I think we've learned quite a bit in just this week."


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