Queen Creek 2018-19 girls basketball preview

Daeja Johnson (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

The girls basketball season is underway across Queen Creek with many teams playing several games already ahead of the holiday break.

The Queen Creek Independent reached out to girls basketball coaches in the area to get their thoughts on the ongoing season and what they need to do to be successful.

All statistics from the 2017-18 season provided are via maxpreps.com and entries with no question-and-answer segments are because the Independent did not receive a response to a questionnaire sent to coaches.

ALA Queen Creek Patriots

3A Central Region

2017-18 Record: 10-17, 4-6 region (Did not reach 3A playoffs)

Coach: Jeff Heggie, 20 years experience (second year at ALA Queen Creek)

Top returners: Alleyna McDonald, Sr. 5-8 guard/wing (9.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg and 4.7 spg); McKenzie Skousen, So. 5-9 wing/forward (8.6 rpg and 7.6 ppg);

What’s your team’s best attribute entering the season?

We have a very diversified team this season with many girls that have never played together before. But even with the girls not having much experience playing together they are gelling very well. As a coach it’s always great to have talented girls on your team but even more important to me this season is that I have a team of very genuine, good kids that care for each other.

What will your team need to improve on for this season to be a success?

Even though they are gelling well, the experience of playing together will help us to improve. As we play more games I think we will see a continual improvement.

Who are your team leaders? Why?

Josie Coleman (senior) – Josie moved from China this year but has already stepped up as a leader on our team. She’s a great example to the others and is a talented player. She is 6’ tall but can play any position on the floor.

Alleyna McDonald (senior) – Alleyna also has some good leadership qualities on our team. She’s a hustler and very encouraging to her teammates.

Who are newcomers to the varsity team who could make an impact?

Kaycee Kimball (Junior) – Kaycee transferred from Queen Creek High and thus has to sit out 50% of our games this season due to transfer rules. She’s a talented point guard with a great shot. Even with having to sit out half the season she has stepped up as a leader on our team.

Jess Winquest (Junior) – Another Queen Creek transfer that has to sit out half the season. She will have a huge impact for us on our inside game once she can play.

Morgan Christensen (sophomore) – Morgan moved this year from Idaho. She’s another girl that can play in a number of positions. She has a lot of talent and will have a big impact on our program for a few years.

What needs to happen for your team to consider this season a success?

For our team to feel like the season is a success we need to continue to improve from one game to the next. I feel that I have a number of girls on the team that don’t recognize their full potential. Once they can start to play at their highest level we will be very strong.

Some extra thoughts:

I’m enjoying having the opportunity to have my daughter, Tia Heggie, coach with me this year until she leaves on a mission for our Church in December. Tia played at ALA for the past two years and was the regional player of the year each of those years and All American last season. After her mission she will be playing for Snow College. Her experience, knowledge and relationship with the girls has been a great asset for our team.

Benjamin Franklin Chargers

3A Central Region

2017-18 Record: 9-18, 3-7 region (Did not reach 3A playoffs)

Coach: Danjee Moser (Third year at Benjamin Franklin)

Top returners:

Scoring: Julia Boyd, Sr. 6-0 forward/guard (11.2 ppg)

Rebounding: Boyd (9.1 rpg)

Assists: Boyd (1.5 apg)

Game notes: The Chargers had a senior-heavy roster last year.

Casteel Colts

5A San Tan Region

2017-18 Record: 19-10, 6-4 region (Reached second round of 3A playoffs.)

Taylor Hall (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Coach: Dan Trageser, nine years experience (first year at Casteel)

Top returners: Autymn Franks, So. 5-2 guard (10.7 ppg, 3.1 apg and 8.8 spg); Taylor Hall, Sr. 5-9 guard (10 ppg and 1.9 spg); Elizabeth Cruz, Jr. 5-11 forward (10.1 rpg and 8.3 ppg)

What’s your team’s best attribute entering the season?

Our best attribute is our unselfishness and ability to shoot the basketball. Through 6 games we have 4 players averaging over 12+ points per game. As a team we average 6+ made 3’s per game along with 15+ assists per game.

Autymn Franks 12.3 ppg and 6.7 assists per game,

Daeja Johnson 15.2 ppg

Taylor Hall 12.5 ppg

Liz Cruz 13.2 ppg and 8.2 rebounds per game.

What will your team need to improve on for this season to be a success?

To be successful our team will look to build and maintain a constant and consistent effort on the defensive end of the floor. We pride ourselves on our defensive effort, our ability to string together stops, and control the boards and get easy buckets in transition.

Who are your team leaders? Why?

We have one senior on our team this year: Taylor Hall. Taylor Hall is our unquestioned leader — she is a four-year varsity captain. She has a tremendous work ethic often the first one in the gym and the last one to leave; she has dedicated countless hours to improving her game and her craft. She is also an outstanding young women of high character and makes those around her better. She has helped build the culture at Casteel over the past three-and-a-half years.

Who are newcomers to the varsity team who could make an impact?

Casteel returns its top 9 scorers from last years team and added three freshman to its varsity squad. Junior Lael Bowser will look to make an impact this year as she slides into the starting lineup as Sophomore Devyn O’Brien makes her way back from a late season knee injury. Lael Bowser brings tremendous energy on the defensive end often guarding the locking down the other teams best players and is a problem on the offensive end. Bowser has already had a 16 rebound game this season.

What needs to happen for your team to consider this season a success?

We are looking to build on the growth and progress made throughout the summer. We have an extremely young squad with only one senior on the roster and three sophomores in the starting lineup. The team is looking to finish in the top half of the region and host a home playoff game this season.

If applicable, what are your thoughts on the new region and classification?

Casteel makes the jump from 3A to the highly competitive 5A San Tan Region. It is a tough region with some very talented players and coaches; highlighted by the trio of Division 1 commits at Gilbert High. Casteel is hopeful to surprise some teams and make some noise in 5A this season.

Higley Knights

5A San Tan Region

2017-18 Record: 7-20, 3-5 region (Did not reach 4A playoffs)

Coach: Brandon Large (Third year at Higley)

Top returners: (No statistics available via maxpreps.com)

Seniors: Cecilia Liliedahl, 5-11 forward; Anastasia Bell, 5-4 guard; Vanessa Venjohn, 5-4 guard

Taylor Cotter (Photo courtesy of QCHS athletics)

Queen Creek Bulldogs

6A Central Region

2017-18 Record: 18-10, 5-3 region (Reached first round of 5A playoffs)

Coach: Cassie Damyanovich (Second year at Queen Creek)

Top returner:

Scoring: Taylor Cotter, Jr. 5-10 guard/forward (14.4 ppg); Ally Blair, Sr. 5-5 guard (4.9 ppg)

Rebounding: Cotter (5.9 rpg); Julia Farmer, Sr. guard/forward (4.6 rpg)

Assists: Cotter (2.3 apg); Taylor Antone, Jr. guard (1.5 apg)

Editor’s Note: Josh Martinez compiled stats and quotes.

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