Leadership to boost Lady Bluebirds for class jump
With 90 percent of their scoring back from a 19-4 season, the Goessel Lady Bluebirds basketball team appears to have the tools needed to make a successful jump from Class 1A Division 1 up to 2A in 2017-18.
That makes coach Ryan Hoopes lucky, along with returning three starters and a load of experience off a team that dominated the Wheat State League.
But it remains to be seen if the Bluebirds can actually produce at the next level.
“Moving up a class will provide new challenges for us, but I think the girls will welcome playing some new teams come postseason,” Hoopes said. “We have enough talent to make a run in 2A; we will just need to find ways to pull out close wins in the end.”
That’ll be key after the Bluebirds beat Rural Vista during the regular season a year ago, only to have them get the last laugh when it counted, handing Goessel a three-point loss in the substate final.
Leading the way for a senior-laden team will be 6-0 senior point guard Eden Hiebert, a second team all-Class 1A pick a year ago.
A four-year starter, Hiebert’s ball handling and running the floor will make the backcourt a force for the Bluebirds.
Hiebert frustrates opponents’ offenses with her tenacious defense and can score and shoot from anywhere on the floor.
Senior Brittney Hiebert can play either inside or out at 5-11.
An all-Class 1A honorable mention selection a year ago, Brittney, too, is a smothering defender and can score either outside or down low.
Returning for her final year is guard Kara Burkholder.
Burkholder’s strong work ethic and attitude on and off the court should make her a key asset for Hoopes.
The Bluebirds have plenty of depth as well, both in frontcourt and back with the senior duo of Abby Hannon and Leah Booton and the junior pair of Savanna Wuest and Stephany Meyer.
Hoopes will be taking applications for two others to break into the starting lineup.
Hannon made a late surge last year and should continue to be a force as an outside scorer.
Booton’s height at 5-11 will bolster the frontcourt and she’s got a strong game from 15 feet in.
Wuest can play either up front or on the wing and can do a number of things at either position.
Only a junior, Meyer may be on the verge of a breakout season. At 6-0, Meyer’s speed allows her to run the floor like a guard.
Some of the Bluebirds’ past shortcomings could be blamed on lacking a leader and toughness down the stretch.
With seven seniors, that shouldn’t be quite the factor it was last year.
“The girls have come up with five elements that we feel are essential for our success this year,” said Hoopes. “They are leadership, energy, passion, togetherness, and confidence.
“The girls are focused to strive for these five things every day. If we can show improvements in these areas, our talent potential will take care of itself.”
Last modified Nov. 30, 2017