Different girls, same state aspirations
By KLINT SPILLER
LOGAN -- The names on the roster might be much different from last season, but for the Logan Trojan girls basketball team, the expectations remain the same.
The Trojans are coming off back-to-back state appearances in Class 1A Division II, and though they graduated their top six scorers from last year's team, including 6-foot forward Caley Greving, they want to return in 2013 to Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays for a third shot at the state title.
So far so good, as the Trojans haven't missed much of a beat in their 5-3 start.
Head coach Brandon Gehring said this squad might not be battle tested like last year's seasoned class, but they were hardened by having to practice against last year's veterans.
"I know they are different, but they've been battling that other group for the last two years," Gehring said. "It's not just Friday night and Tuesday night they are playing tough games. They've had tough scrimmages every night in practice. For the last two years, they've been going to work."
Still, it will be difficult to replace 2012's senior class.
In their last two seasons, the Trojans went 29-19 and earned their second back-to-back trips to state in school history, matching the feat accomplished in 1994 and 1995.
Greving was a significant reason for that. In her senior year, she averaged a double-double, scoring 14.4 points per game and grabbing 11.5 rebounds per game.
Sophomore Kadee Braun has done a good job of filling that void this season, though.
So far, she's short of Greving's offensive total, averaging seven points per game, but she's grabbing 10.8 rebounds and recording 1.3 blocks per game -- both just short of Greving's averages.
That's not bad for just a sophomore.
Braun said she learned a lot from the bench playing behind Greving.
"I learned post moves and going up strong," Braun said.
Junior guard Brooke Hammond leads the team in scoring with 12.7 points per game.
Hammond has done much of her damage from the foul line, connecting on 39 of 55 free throws.
Sophomore point guard Courtney Schneider averages team-highs with 2.3 steals and 2.0 assists per game, and junior Cynthia Bressler helps fill the void at post, scoring five points per game and grabbing seven rebounds a contest.
Unlike that senior squad, this team hasn't played together for years and years. For several younger players, it's their first real experience playing with the upperclassmen.
Braun said it's taken some time to adjust.
"It's been quite a journey, I guess, but it's been good," she said.
Last year's team was senior-dominated. Those six seniors did the majority of the work, but this year's team is much different.
The Trojans are young, and they are getting contributions from throughout the classes, especially their sophomores and juniors. Those two classes account for six players and 89 percent of their scoring.
Logan Kats is the first-year head coach of Almena-Northern Valley. The Huskies lost a nailbiter Friday at Logan.
Though he didn't coach against Logan's experienced 2011-2012 squad, he was aware of their accomplishments. However, he still expected stiff competition against their young replacements.
"I knew they lost a bunch of their seniors last year," Kats said. "But I knew they were going to be good, because when you have that senior leadership, it trickles down to all the rest of your players."
Like the senior class that made a run in their final two years, on paper, this group potentially could do the same.
"I think this group has a chance to be just as competitive as that group," Gehring said. "They have a chance to make a run themselves."