High school women start off victoriously

By Claire Sabino

With their jamboree last Monday at Waterloo East, the girls basketball team dominated with a lead of 36-11 to start the season, and on Tuesday, Nov. 29, they also battled Dubuque Hempstead away and came out the winners with 57-51. Cynthia Wolf contributed big with 14 points, and Kiana Barney threw down the most with 16 points scored.

In a recap of last season, head coach Gregg Groen said, “I have been very fortunate to have some very talented basketball players the last few years. The girls really focus on the team concept, play very unselfish and do a great job of encouraging each other. We have some girls back this year who have been major contributors to the success the last two years, and we have a great mixture of incoming players who will greatly help this team. The team has gone 40-9 over the last two years and two state trips, making it to the semi-finals last season.” Groen has been coaching at CF for 16 years, and is heading into his third year as varsity head coach.

“This team has the ability to make it to state,” he said, “but right now we need to first focus on doing the little things right in practice and getting better as a team so we can put ourselves in a position to have that opportunity to make it to State. There is much time between now and March, and what we do with that time in practice and competing against great competition will best prepare us for that opportunity.”

He said the team is still developing its own dynamics. “I think it is too early in the season yet to know how this team will be different from last year’s team. Each team, each year, creates its own identity, and right now in each practice we are trying to establish what this team’s identity will be. We need to focus on the strengths the players collectively bring to the team to help it be successful.”

One of the returning letterwinners from last year’s team, junior Kiana Barney, said, “This is my favorite sport. I’ve been playing for as long as I can remember. It has always been a dream of mine to play Division I basketball, and my sophomore year (last year) after the season, I committed to UNI. Our team this year has a lot of goals, and it is definitely a goal to make it to State. There’s no doubt in my mind that we can’t make it there and compete to be state champions if we keep practicing hard and making each other better. We have a lot of returning players who have grown a lot from last season as players. This year we are really focusing on being relentless and working harder than anyone else. I love how I can use basketball to escape anything that’s going on and just to relax. I can spend hours just shooting. I also love the relationships it forms.”

In her last year, teammate Ally Conrad said, “This is my favorite sport. I have been playing since as long as I can remember, maybe like second grade. I have been looking at Wartburg to play college basketball, but I am still unsure if that’s what I want to do. I am so confident in our team that we can achieve the goal of making it to the Well. We have so many strengths that make us different from other teams. This year will be different from last because we will have a deeper bench, and there will be lots of girls that will play. I love this team.”

The girls will have 20 games left guaranteed, and then a shot in the Wells Fargo Arena. Their next game is today after school,  Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at home. They will be against Washington.

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