2017-2018 Winter Sports Previews: Colton High School girls' basketball
Head coach: Kyle Gilstad, fifth season
2016-2017 record: 8-15 overall, 4-8 league; PacWest Conference fifth place
Three-year record: 37-40, 17-19
Final OSAA power ranking: 29
Last playoff appearance: 2015-2016 season, lost to Dayton 36-71 in the first round
Seniors lost: 5 – Rachel McCoy, Katlyn Baker, Alex McCorkle, Megan Imdieke, and Haley McCoy
Key returners: Senior Grace James, Second Team All-League; senior Katie Wills; junior Becca Burge
Season outlook: Colton will be looking to improve on their 8-15 season last year and aim to make some noise in the playoffs. The Lady Viks have a stacked preseason schedule against some tough opponents, including 2A powerhouse St. Paul and competitive tournaments at Junction City and Regis High Schools.
Head coach Kyle Gilstad said they had a solid group of 25 players come out for practices a few weeks ago, and that they have been working since on their fundamentals and conditioning to get them ready for the long season ahead.
"This is one of the hardest-working groups of kids I've worked with," he said. "Top to bottom, they all give 100 percent, and that's all we coaches can ask for."
Colton returns five players from last year's varsity squad, including seniors Katie Wills and Grace James, the latter of which earned Second Team All-League honors last season for her solid performance under the basket.
Juniors Maddie Travis, Becca Burge, and Jenelle Baker will all be expected to continue the work they put in on last year's varsity squad. All three, plus Wills, played on spring and summer teams while James played with a traveling team in the offseason as well.
Several players from last season's JV squad will also be expected to step up and contribute on varsity this year, including volleyball standout senior Brooklyn Olsen, who will be able to add some transition help with her speed, and senior Kaliahna Raasch will likely be a big asset under the basket as the Viks will look to step up their rebounding game. Junior Kaelie Gates and sophomores Madison Olsen, Olivia Spitzer, Courtney Weinberger, and Maddie Beguelin will also likely play integral roles in the rotation.
"All of these girls played on spring and summer teams as well and are expected to make contributions immediately coming off the bench for our Varsity team," Gilstad said. "We have a lot of girls that can do a lot of different things on the floor and it's going to be fun watching it all come together this season."
Gilstad also said they'll be looking to improve their rebounding and tighten up their gaps to limit their opponents' opportunities to score.
The PacWest Conference is one that will be tough to contend with, especially with the returning state champion Blanchet Catholic Cavaliers and the number three finishers in Salem Academy.
Last season, Colton tied Gervais in league play, but the Cougars were able to grab the number three spot after beating the Lady Viks later in the season along with Scio.
"We'll be fighting for one of three state playoff spots allotted to our league, and our girls won't be satisfied unless we get one," Gilstad said. "The girls have high expectations, and so do us coaches."
First game: The Lady Viks will host Portland Christian on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 6 p.m.
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