PREP FOCUS: Wilson Trojans have depth and more
There's a lot to like about the Wilson Trojans girls basketball team.
Depth, athleticism, hoop savvy, size, length, ball-handling, defense, leadership, experience, chemistry coach Mike Nolan says he has a top-notch group assembled for the 2013-14 season.
Three returning seniors and two sophomores start and half the team made it to the state championship game in Class 5A soccer last month but that is only part of the Wilson story.
"It's a deep team, an anomaly for the program," Nolan says. "I'd take my second five against anybody's starting five in a minute."
The starting group consists of soccer standouts Ellen Berkley, 5-9 forward/post; Madison Horn, 5-6 point guard, and Jamie Kresl, 5-7 shooting guard, along with 6-0 third guard Alexa Hinkley, and 5-6 forward/post Allie Bottinelli.
Berkley, Horn and Bottinelli are seniors; Kresl and Hinkley are sophs.
Also on the basketball squad from the soccer team are post Nikki Hogan, a 5-11 sophomore who was Wilson's goalkeeper, and seniors Sydney Dossett, 5-10 post, and Mikaela Bessette, 5-8 guard.
The soccer team won a co-PIL 5A title with Cleveland and then went from No. 22 in the state rankings to playoff upsets of Hood River Valley, Sherwood, West Albany and Wilsonville.
"Hopefully the confidence from their run to the soccer finals will come into play for us this season, too," Nolan says.
Berkley is a premier example of the multifaceted Wilson athlete that Nolan likes to see in his basketball program. She also plays lacrosse and hopes to attend Claremont (Calif.) McKenna College and play two of her three sports for the Athenas.
On the basketball court for Wilson, "she could take over a game if she wanted to," Nolan says, "and the program has evolved to where our starting center (Berkley) used to be our starting point guard, so we have some versatility in lineups and rotations."
A big key, he says, has been the development of Wilson's youth basketball program.
"When I took over at the high school eight years ago, we didn't have a competitive youth program," he says. "Now we do, all the way down to the third-grade level. We have 95 girls playing in our youth program."
One of those who came through the program and now is on the varsity is 5-10 junior forward Lily Brodrick, who transferred from Jesuit.
"She can play the high or low post, and hit the midrange jumper, and she just adds to our athletic ability and overall tenacity at both ends of the floor," Nolan says.
Hogan, the goalie, is "a dynamic basketball player who's big and physical and understands the game."
Other seniors on the squad are guards Mariah Crowley, 5-6, and Veronica Rivers, 5-7.
"Our seniors have been four-year players," Nolan says.
Using his depth but also just as the team philosophy, the Trojans will look to play an uptempo style.
"We want to push the ball as best we can, get out in space and get the best shot possible as quickly as possible," Nolan says. "And, make or miss, we're going to be in your face, with a combination of man and zone defense."
The depth, later this month, will grow with the anticipated return of 5-6 junior guard Rachel Reese, who has had a back injury.
And the Trojans will play this season without McKenzie Hopfer, a junior guard who is out with an ACL injury she suffered in the first game of the soccer season.
Wilson opened its season last week with a 46-38 home win over Liberty.
"There were a lot of nerves, but the kids got through them, and defensively we played really well," Nolan says. "Liberty made a little run in the third quarter, and we responded."
The Trojans are scheduled to play at Reynolds on Tuesday night. Then come home games on Dec. 13 against Barlow and Dec. 17 versus Sunset.
The team leaves the next day for Phoenix, Ariz., and the huge Nike Tournament of Champions.
"I took a team there five years ago, and we had a great time," Nolan says.
Wilson's first PIL 5A league game will be Jan. 7 at Madison.