The Daily Astorian
The Warrenton Lady Warriors were knocking on the door to the state playoffs a year ago; with just a little luck this season, Robert Hoepfl’s team will be a part of the “Big Dance” next March.
With three starters returning from a team that won 16 games last season, the Warrenton girls basketball program is set up for a big year.
“We should have a pretty good year,” said Hoepfl, entering his third season as the Warrenton coach. “You never know how it’s going to play out, but we have a group of kids who work really hard.”
THE LEWIS & CLARK LEAGUE
“Our league’s tough — there’s a lot of talent returning,” Hoepfl said of Warrenton’s last year in the Lewis & Clark League. “Rainier and De La Salle should both be pretty tough. Riverdale and Clatskanie will both be much improved; and Oregon Episcopal and Catlin Gabel always find a way to be competitive. PAA (Portland Adventist) is traditionally the cream of the crop, but they graduated a lot.”
THE LADY WARRIORS
Warrenton wasn’t the biggest team around last season, but it didn’t make a difference. Warrenton’s game was built on speed and launching 3-pointers — which they did better than any team in the Lewis & Clark League last season.
The team graduated three seniors, Katelynn Blodgett, Krista Morrill and Landree Miethe.
“Losing those three was tough, but we have some kids behind them who are ready to step up,” Hoepfl said. Included are “five kids who played big roles for us last year, who will all be big contributors this year.”
And a look down the Warrenton roster shows that the Warriors could now be one of the biggest teams in the league.
Junior Fernanda Alvarez is a 6-foot post, “really athletic, and had a great finish to her season last year,” Hoepfl said. “Down the stretch she had multiple double-doubles, and she’s only gotten better.”
Elsewhere, “Claire Bussert (Jr.) and Tyla Little (Sr.) have been starters since I’ve been coach,” he said. “They’ve both started since their freshmen years, so those two are really important to what we’re doing.
“Tyla was second-team all-league, averaged 15 points a game; and Claire was kind of an unsung hero, just a great key to everything, and a great floor general.”
Sagi Diego played big minutes last year, “and she will have a bigger role as a junior,” said the coach. “She’s an excellent defender. Some of the best instincts I’ve seen.”
Rachel Dyer is one of just two seniors, along with Little, and is a good shooter off the bench.
“The next group of kids, Maria Heyen (Jr.) and Morgan Blodgett (Jr.) both had good JV years,” Hoepfl said. “They will be juniors this year, and play big roles for us at the varsity level. Maria is a great talker, 5-11, and another post option for us. Morgan is another athletic wing.”
Rounding out the varsity will be junior point guard Adrianna DeJesus, and sophomores Elissa Blodgett, Jadah Doney, Melia Kapua and McKenzie Ramsey.
Julie Foster and Vanessa Talancon are two first-year seniors.
“Claire, Tyla and Fernanda are the big three for us,” Hoepfl said. “This is year three for Tyla and Claire both starting in the backcourt, and not a lot of people get that kind of continuity at the high school level.”
Coach: Robert Hoepfl, 3rd year
2016-17: 16-9 (10-6 league)
Playoffs: Defeated De La Salle, lost to Portland Christian in league playoffs.
All-league loss: Landree Miethe
All-league returner: Tyla Little, Sr.