Goessel girls’ athletics has established a reputation for excellence in recent years, and state basketball coaches have noticed, tabbing the Bluebirds fifth in the Class 1A Division 1 preseason rankings.
The ranking isn’t as important to coach Ryan Hoopes as is the culture of high expectations that drives his players to excel.
“These girls know how to win and they want to win,” Hoopes said. “We’ve been successful in volleyball and we’ve been successful in the regular season in basketball for the past couple of years. However, we’ve lost in the substate final twice to some really good teams. We haven’t gotten over the hump yet.”
Senior post player Olivia Duerksen likes having a reputation to uphold.
“It helps a lot to get us all motivated, kniowing this is what happened in the past and we need to keep the reputation up,” she said. “Even if we have different people, it needs to continue on, and we’re going to play as hard as we can all the time.”
Duerksen will have senior Brittney Hiebert to help out on the front line this season. Hiebert is making the transition into the post from playing guard last year.
“It’s really been different,” Hiebert said. “I had to re-learn all the plays, but I’m excited to play post.”
Hoopes expects the transition to go well.
“Brittney can go inside and out,” he said. “We graduated two of our 6-footers from last year. I’ve always liked her in the post, but last year we didn’t need her there. She’s strong, she’s looked really good.”
Eden Hiebert was all-state honorable mention at guard last season, and the 5’11” junior will play point guard.
“She sees the floor well and she can throw the ball from one corner of the court to the other on a dime,” Hoopes said. “In girls basketball you don’t often see that.”
Hoopes estimated the Bluebirds lost 70 too 80 percent of their scoring to graduation, and he hopes senior guard Jennifer Meysing will pick up some of the slack.
“She’s always been a shooter for us on junior varsity,” he said. “In our league we see a lot of zone, so I’m really hoping she has a breakout year. She can shoot it, and I think she’ll surprise a lot of teams.”
Kara Burkholder, Abby Hannon, Leah Booton, and Savanna Wuest are all expected to play important roles in the Bluebirds rotation.
“Probably seven of these girls coming back played a lot last year,” Hoopes said. “They’ve been in big games. The potential is there.”
While overall team speed may be a bit slower, Hoopes doesn’t plan to change Goessel’s brand of play that emphasizes running the ball on offense and high-pressure man defense.
“I feel like we could go play tomorrow; it’s a good core group,” Hoopes said. “They sitick together and they know what’s going on.”
Goessel will open the season at home Friday against Inman.