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By Jocelyn Rowley
Sports@lhvc.com 

Girls Basketball Preview: Cougars look to athletic seniors for end to playoff drought

 

December 1, 2017

Ed Navarro

Sophie Grant hits a layup against Silver Creek last season

Niwot head girls basketball coach Terri Ward didn’t need to come up with any clever gimmicks to motivate her team this year. After coming achingly close to making the postseason for the first time since 2014, Ward and her team are keeping one number in mind as they take the court for the 2017-18 season: .003678.

“Point zero-zero-three-six-seven-eight is driving this team this year,” said Ward, who is entering her fifth season since resuming head coaching duties in 2013.

That tiny number was the difference between Thompson Valley’s 48th and Niwot’s 49th place in last year’s final Class 4A RPI rankings. Despite a better overall record and a higher finish in the Northern League, the Cougars were .003678 behind the Eagles in the RPI, and found themselves on the outside of the playoff bracket looking in.

Ward and the Cougars finally will have their chance to claim their rightful spot among the top-48 when the new season gets under way on Nov. 29. Ward is excited about her mix of returning veterans and fresh faces, and is absolutely expecting to be one of the top teams in the Northern League, along with Centaurus, Greeley Central, and Longmont. She also fully expects to be playing beyond the third week of February, especially if her team can “grab some wins here and there” from some of the league’s other top teams.

“Yes, we are expecting to make the playoffs,” said Ward. “That’s our goal as a team.”

Leading that charge for Niwot are returning seniors Allie Colvin, Mary Gillett, Sophie Grant, and Rosie Setter, who is back with the team after suffering an ACL tear last January. Joining them are senior Divya Bhat and junior Brynn Beaton, who joined the varsity late last season, along with newcomers Marlowe Baines, Sophie Storz, and Nikki Sims. Ward is also excited to finally see senior Jamie Lee in action, after CHSAA rules and an injury kept the Frederick transfer on the sidelines her entire junior season.

Joining Ward on staff for the girls program are junior varsity coach Kelly Gray, and C Team coach Colleen Ford, who also assists Daisha Agho on the volleyball staff. Both Gray and Ford are veterans of Ward’s teams from her earlier stint at Niwot.

Notably absent from this year’s squad is junior Zoe Gonzales, who left the team to concentrate on volleyball full time. Without her dominating post player — Gonzales led the Cougars in both scoring and rebounding last season — Ward has had to make some adjustments to her lineup, but thinks they will pay off in a more deeper offense.

Ed Navarro

Allie Colvin (l) and Mary Gillett (r) are returning to the varsity squad for the Cougars this year.

“We’re not going to have someone like Zoe who scores 12 points and gets eight rebounds,” said Ward. “We’re going to have five that score seven to eight, and another five that score three to four. I think as a collective group, we’ll probably score more points than we did last year.”

On the other hand, Ward expects her team to be primarily defensive-minded, and is particularly excited about their ability to execute the press.

“We’re going to play great defense, and we’re going to press you, and we’re going to run,” Ward said. “We are very, very athletic, and we press like no other.”

Niwot kicks off the 2017-18 season on the road at Frederick on Nov. 29 at 5:30 p.m. The team is on the road to face Erie on Dec. 1, then return home to host Mead on Dec. 4.

 

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