BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Rockford girls basketball coach James Carr returns some varsity leaders, but not as many as expected.
Along with graduating standout players like Shannon Ritten, one of the top scorers in school history, Rockford had some players who decided not to come out in their senior season and junior Brooke Dormanen transferred to Delano along with her younger sisters.
The Rockets open the season at home against Delano at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27. Rockford also is home against Heritage Christian Academy at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29.
Last year the Rockets finished at 10-17, losing in the first round of the playoffs. In the loss to Foley, Jayda Palmer scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Palmer returns to lead this season along with senior Nkaujntsa Lee, both captains. Palmer is a 5-10 center and Lee a 5-2 guard.
Katelynn Pedersen, a 5-10 senior forward, battled through injuries last season and is expected to help more on offense next season.
Pedersen was the second leading scorer early on last year before getting hurt and playing catch up the rest of the year says Carr.
Junior Jordan Weeding, a 5-10 forward, was also banged up last season but is back to full speed and is expected to spark the offense.
Sophomore Samantha Baagason started the season coming off the bench on the junior varsity and ended up starting the last half of the season at varsity point guard. Sophomore Brianna Calder was another young player emerging late last season.
Carr said he is evaluating several other players competing for varsity roles. The big need is to find more guards.
The coach is encouraged by the number of younger players coming out for the sport. There are 17 seventh-graders and 11 in eighth grade.
“Having good numbers brings in the competitive aspect for playing time when players give 100 percent in practice knowing there are varsity minutes at stake,” adds Carr.
The coach will stress defense at the start, not yet knowing how the offense will come together. Losing a 1,000-point career scorer in Ritten leaves a big hole.
“Our strength will be in rebounding and our passing ability,” said Carr. “We have girls who can put the ball in the basket, but we are not yet sure who is our go to person. Right now, it will have to be a team effort.”
Rocket players get excited to play neighbor Delano every year. Last year Rockford lost by a few points in a tight game the entire way. This year Delano has several young but tall and talented players.