Eagle girls bring plenty of balance into 2006-07 season
SOLON SPRINGS -- Dale Rajala has a problem all high school basketball coaches wish they could suffer: too much balance. "We have to polish just a little bit on everything we do," Rajala said "And it's not like we need one player to step up, but w...
SOLON SPRINGS -- Dale Rajala has a problem all high school basketball coaches wish they could suffer: too much balance.
"We have to polish just a little bit on everything we do," Rajala said "And it's not like we need one player to step up, but we're talking about a little bit more from everyone."
The Solon Springs girls basketball team can play up-tempo and handle the half-court offensive sets. The Eagles can play a zone or a match-up defense. They have height, size and quickness.
"We just have to put it all together," Rajala said. "And if we are able to do that in a single game, we'll be dangerous for anyone to play."
The Eagles opened up their season dropping a non-conference contest at Birchwood where they trailed 24-7 after the first quarter. Solon Springs then went on to net a pair of Indianhead Conference victories over South Shore and Mercer.
"We started out slow against Birchwood," Rajala said. "But we played well against South Shore and Mercer, including posting a 50-point second half."
The Eagles have been paced in the scoring column by four-year starter and all-conference performer Ciara Gilbert, who posted 30 points against Mercer.
"Ciara leads by example through her play," Rajala said. "But we're also counting on some young players."
While Gilbert displays her senior leadership through her skills, a freshman point guard with a big voice has also emerged.
"Rachel Hanley has really stepped up and become our point guard," Rajala said. "She's being depended on more than she thought and maybe more than she even wanted as a freshman, but she's doing the job."
Other upperclassmen hoping to push the Eagles past their 8-12 mark of a year ago include seniors Christina Gunnerson, Jamie Walt and Jamie Hanley and juniors Kate Klinzing and Grace Larson. Sophomore Selann Gilbert has returned to her starting role in the post, while fellow sophomores Casi Rice, Chandra Deming, Lydia Utyro, Jamie Jackson and Nicole Bowker will also be relied upon. Even freshman such as Hanley and Lorin Larson will be expected to contribute early.
Those young players got a rude awakening in the Eagles' third IC contest, a 68-26 loss at defending conference champion Hurley Monday night.
"Hurley has everyone back from their championship team of a year ago," Rajala said. "But we played them tough in the first half; the best we've played a half of basketball against Hurley in years."
The the Eagles trailed only 25-17 at the half but then mustered just nine points in the second half.
"If we have an area to work the most on, it's our defensive transitioning," Rajala said. "Against Hurley though, we just stopped playing defense in the second half and they scored at will."
The Eagles look to get back to balance next Monday when they host the co-op team from Butternut and Glidden High Schools.
Solon Springs Eagles
Coach -- Dale Rajala
Nov. 16 -- at Frederic (W)
Nov. 21 -- at South Shore (W)
Dec. 1 -- vs. Mercer (L)
Dec. 4 -- at Hurley (L 68-26)
Dec. 8 -- at Northwood
Dec. 11 -- vs. Butternut/Glidden
Dec. 14 -- vs. Bayfield
Dec. 18 -- at Drummond
Dec. 21 -- vs. Mellen
Jan. 5 -- vs. Washburn, 6 p.m.
Jan. 9 -- vs. South Shore
Jan. 12 -- at Mercer, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 16 -- vs. Siren
Jan. 19 -- vs. Hurley, 6 p.m.
Jan. 29 -- at Clear Lake
Feb. 2 -- at Butternut/Glidden
Feb. 6 -- at Bayfield
Feb. 9 -- vs. Drummond
Feb. 13 -- at Mellen
Feb. 16 -- at Washburn