Carson High girls basketball looks to be more up tempo | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson High girls basketball looks to be more up tempo

The Carson High girls basketball team is a week away from opening its season, and coach Melissa Larsen is looking to improve on last season's 12-14 record.

"It (the buy-in) was better throughout the program, and we'll be better, but we know everybody else will be stronger and better," said Larsen, whose team was 7-9 in league play and made it into the playoffs. "We need to rise up.

"Team basketball is what's going to win. We need to play stronger as a team. We are going to surprise teams with different combinations. I think we surprised some people in what we did accomplish. What we did last year was acceptable. We want to get better."

The Senators return seven players — point guard Abbey Paulson (2.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg), guard Lauren Lemburg (10.3, 3.7), small forward-guard Bella Kordonowy (8.0, 7.3), center Haley Garver (5.4, 4.7), center-power forward Dajarrah Navarro (3.6, 4.0), Ku'ulei Haupu and Jasmine Peralta — from last year's fourth-place Sierra League team.

Up from the JV team are Annika Wick, Kirsten Iverson, Tezia Boice and Trinity Beard. Abi Golik is the lone freshman on the squad.

And, Larsen is asking all the returning players to step up and improve in certain areas of their individual games.

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"I'm asking Abbey to shoot more. She is great at passing the ball, but we need more shooting from here," Larsen said. "We are asking Bella to become an outside shooter, commit less turnovers and grow in handling the ball. We want Lauren to attack the basket more. She added a nice little floater (over the summer). She needs to work on becoming more of a team player.

"Haley is a strong post player, and we want her attacking the basket. Dajarrah can shoot from the outside. We need her to rebound (more). Ku'ulei is a strong player and we need her to rebound."

Larsen said the Senators are quicker and more athletic. She would like to play a more pressure, full-court defense this year.

"We didn't have the personnel to play that way last year," said assistant coach Rob Roesner. "We are quicker this year.

"We have more depth this year. We don't just have one post player, we have four girls that can play the post. We are more versatile, and we can move people in and out of there (when we pressure people and people need a break). Last year we couldn't do that. We were essentially a seven-person team last year."

Carson lost Haupu early to grades, and Garver was hampered by ankle/foot injuries throughout the season which limited her effectiveness.

Dayton Dust Devils

Head coach Kelly Frantz returns four players — Abby Sikora (6.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg), Cassie Dickenson (1.1, 1.2), Aleea McGill-Howe (5.5, 2.1) and Shainey Vincent (1.6, 1.1) — from last year's 3-23 team.

Of the seven varsity newcomers, there are three freshmen (Faith Reid, Eden Evans, Katelyn Howerton), three sophomores (Tamia Powell, Alexius Valladares, Hannah Coltrin) and one junior Katie Dunkin.

Frantz was impressed with her team's work in the off-season, and she hopes it will pay dividends.

"This was the first off-season where we were able to play in Carson's summer league, and I had 80 percent of my varsity players there," Frantz said. "We had more girls at our open gyms from March to June, and then again in August, than we have had in the past. I had seniors who stepped up their strength and cardio, and they set a great example over the summer to the younger girls coming in."

That being said, inexperience usually means a lot of growing pains.

"The depth of knowledge of the younger girls," Frantz said when asked about her biggest concern entering the season. "They were exposed to a lot in the first couple of weeks. How quick they can learn the offense and press break is going to be key, so we can have girls coming off the bench who feel comfortable on the floor."

Sikora and Howe are athletic, and it's expected the duo will lead the team in scoring this season. How successful Dayton can be depends on how much help they get from their teammates. Both can score in double figures.

"Our girls are doing well transitioning from defense to offense and attacking the basket," Frantz said. "They are all very quick as well, I see hustle on a consistent basis which is something we've lacked in the past.

"We also have some stronger shooters this year, both in the paint and around the perimeter. The level of athleticism is the most exciting attribute I see this year. Each member of the team is invested in what we are doing as a team, and the ability level to start the season is the best I've seen since I started coaching here."

Sierra Lutheran Falcons

Coach Mike Nelson, who guided the Falcons to a league championship and a 19-8 mark overall, returns six players from last year's squad.

The two biggest losses were Grace Bonafede (12.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg), a first-team all-league selection, and Clare Davison (6.8, 2.7 rpg), a second-team all-league pick.

The top returners are Brynna Hansen (6.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Aleyna Gilson (3.3, 3.5). Also back are reserves Ruth Boogman, Emily Hicks, Amana Almeida and Taylor Davison, all of whom will have to play bigger roles this season. The aforementioned quartet combined to average 3.9 points and 4.0 rebounds a contest.

Nelson only has 14 total players in the program, and that's a big concern. The five seniors who graduated won 20 varsity letters in their high school careers. The returning 14 players to the program have won just nine varsity letters.

"We will be looking to see who will step into the leadership void created by the loss of five seniors," Nelson said. "We have had a lot of success the last couple of years, and although we will continue to build on it, this year presents a unique opportunity for change and growth. We have quite a few new faces, but they are hungry and ready to work."

Nelson said success hinges on defense.

"We are a physical team who thrives on making the other team work for a basket," Nelson said. "On the offensive end, our strength is the ability to attack the basket and draw fouls. We don't often settle for jump shots."

HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL

OPENERS

• Carson plays in the Reno-Spanish Springs Tournament starting Nov. 30 at Spanish Springs. The Senators will play Elko, Spring Creek and South Tahoe in the 3-day event.

• Dayton opens its season Nov. 25 at Wooster

• Sierra Lutheran Sierra Lutheran vs. Western Sierra Collegiate Academy in the Forest Lake Christian School Christmas Classic on Dec. 1 at 5 p.m.