Young basketball team aiming high

Attemping a three in the home game against Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Tuesday, Dec.4, junior Emerson Green and the Tigers dominated the Cougars, 54-35 and improved their season record to 3-0. Green finished the night with 13 points. Freshman Sarah Albaugh and sophomore Anaya Barney both added 12 points in the victory. The Tigers face Waterloo West at home on Friday, Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m. This is the first night of the annual Jerry Slykhuis Basketball Showcase. That night, the men’s team will face No.1-ranked Bollingbrook from Illinois. Saturday is day two for the special event, and the men’s team will face Lee’s Summit at 6 p.m. The women’s team moves on to Luther College in Decorah in a contest with Rochester Century at 6 p.m.

Women’s basketball has kicked off the season with a 3-0 record, and head coach Gregg Groen said he is excited about what lies ahead. 

“It is always fun starting a new season because we have a new group of girls playing together, and it will be fun to see how our team chemistry comes together.”

Groen also has returning starters junior Emerson Green and sophomore Anaya Barney back as well.

“Emerson Green is a 1st team All-Stater and unanimous 1st team All-Conference player. Anaya Barney is also a returning starter and a second team All-Conference player. We also return senior letterwinners McKenna Gleason and Morgan Sterrett, and junior letter winner Lexie Godfrey. Then we have a group of girls coming in that will get their first varsity action, but it will be fun to see them develop into the program,” Groen said. 

Junior starter Emerson Green has been a key player for the Tigers, and will be a weapon for the team.

“This year our conference and the others are loaded with good teams. Every game this year will be a challenge. Some big ones are Iowa City West and Iowa City City High,” Green said.

Godfrey is a first year starter for the Tigers. Last year playing some minutes for the Tigers, Godfrey will be another key player for the team.

“All of our players are really good because each of them has their own strengths. Emerson and Anaya are both very good at being aggressive and getting good shots up. McKenna is our post, and her height helps us a lot. Sarah is a freshman, but she’s learning fast, and she’s been shooting really well,” Godfrey said

Barney is a second year starter looking for a title in her young career.

“I think that everyone on the team is gonna have an important role this year because we all need each other to get better, and people on the team have different strengths,” Barney said.

The women have a headstart as their team chemistry has been there for them because most of them played together the previous year. 

“As a team, we’ve decided that one of the things we want to be known for is our defense, which we believe will win us games. We are very close outside of the gym, so that helps with team ch]emistry on the court. All in all, I think that if we play the game like we know we can play, we’ll go very far,” Godfrey said.

As the Tigers reminisce over the failed attempt to beat the buzzer last year in their quarterfinal loss against the Indianola Indians, they are preparing to get out of those tight situations.

“We have high hopes for this team. We’re a little bit of an underdog, and we’re a little bit young, but we look good in practice and are working hard to be the best we can be,” Godfrey said. 

Groen respects the effort that the girls put in and believes that their chemistry, hard working ethic and skill will push the team on to success.

“I have been very fortunate to coach great players who are very talented and work extremely hard to be successful. I also think success comes from surrounding myself with great assistant coaches who help make the team successful. Supportive parents of the program and the players also help to make for a successful season,” Groen said.

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