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Cowboys hoopsters know tricks of the trade


For this year’s Camp Verde High School girls basketball team, there are no surprises.

Largely made up of sophomores, they know what to expect now with a year of varsity experience under their belt.

“Last year they were rookies. They didn’t know the system, They didn’t know what to expect, they were green, they were weak,” head coach Mark Showers said. “This year they’re a little bit stronger, little bit more mature, little bit wiser. They know the system, so they’re going to be a little bit more confident. As we get into the season, that’s what I’m expecting out of them.”

Admittedly still a young group, with zero seniors and at least three sophomores to be in the starting lineup, there is a lot left to learn.

Improvement has been made in areas, but there is one facet of the game that leaves a big question mark still.

“Our shooting and ball handling has improved. Right now were using a new man offense,” Showers said. “Probably our biggest Achilles heel is going to be rebounding, because we don’t know. After Kayla Hackett graduated, we don’t know how good we’re going to be at rebounding.”
Sophomore guard Amanda Lozanilla prepares to shoot a three-pointer. Both are part of a large group of sophomores that already carries a year of varsity experience.
Fortunately the Cowboys have the tools. At six feet tall, sophomore center Jacy Finley literally stands out from the rest. Finley and sophomore forward Destiny Dowdle have made strides over the summer, Showers said.

“We’ll figure out whether we’re just going to have to work at [rebounding], or whether somebody steps up,” Showers said. “Destiny [Dowdle] is looking real good right now, of course Jacy is a little older and we’re expecting more from her.”

During practice on Tuesday, Nov. 14, Finley was also hitting shots from beyond the arc during warm-ups as well. So was junior guard Hope Ontiveros, back on the court with a bionic-looking knee brace after being sidelined most of the
2016-17 season with an ACL injury suffered against Sedona Red Rock High School on Jan. 10.

Showers identified overall balance as the team’s biggest strength. Given the better ball handling and shooting, it is a matter of seeing how everything translates on the court.

This year the Cowboys want to play at a faster pace, outletting the ball to sophomore guard Tanna Decker and running the floor. Last year the ball was always being walked up the floor with the defense set.

In terms of setting concrete goals, the team has yet to do so. For now, it is merely preparing for its first games of the season.

But Showers does know that the Central Region is as within reach as ever, given that Red Rock, the champion the last two seasons, lost two key players. However, it does have reigning region Player of the Year in senior guard Liza Westervelt.

“From my standpoint we want to look at winning the region. I think we have an opportunity to compete with Sedona this year, and so we’ll see how that goes,” Showers said. “No one has a Liza Westervelt, so that’s the X factor on the other side. How do you control her? I’ve been working on that for the last three years; we’ll see whether the fourth is the charm.”

The team opened the season on Tuesday, Nov. 21, against 1A Mayer High School, but results were unavailable at press time.

The Cowboys will next play at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, at Scottsdale Preparatory Academy.

2017-18 Roster

Returners Newcomers

Hope Ontiveros, guard

Janet Ortega, forward
Lauren Ontiveros, guard

Tanna Decker, guard
Amanda Lozanilla, guard
Anna Peterson, guard
Bennett Holm, forward
Destiny Dowdle, forward
Jacy Finley, center

Maya Hedges, guard/forward

2017-18 Schedule

[November through middle of December]

Nov. 28, 5:30 p.m.
@ Scottsdale Preparatory Academy

Dec. 1 and 2
@ Phoenix Country Day School Classic

Dec. 5, 5:30 p.m.
@ Payson High School

Dec. 7, 6 p.m.
vs. Bourgade Catholic High School

Dec. 8, 5:30 p.m.
vs. Anthem Preparatory Academy

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