Hillcrest girls basketball starts season on high note
Last year, the Hillcrest girls basketball team made it to state, an accomplishment no other girls basketball team at the school has done for more than 14 years. This season, the team is hoping to capitalize on that momentum and turn it into another successful year.
Hillcrest will have six returning seniors and two juniors with varsity experience. Coach Dave Richardson said his team has the experience and height to potentially accomplish its goal of not only making it to state once again, but being a contender for the 4A state title.
“Physically, the girls are in their best shape ever,” Richardson said. “We are running two miles every day before practice and working on our strength and conditioning.”
Hillcrest started off the season with a victory over Hunter on Nov. 26, 57-38. Whitney Nmelka netted 30 points during the game and had two three-point shots. The Huskies were 12-14 at the line and had 21 field goals. Hillcrest outscored Hunter in three of the four quarters and led the entire game.
The Huskies are going to be led by Nmelka and Maddie Shaw. Both players have been with the team since they were freshmen. Nmelka has some varsity experience and that is going to help the Huskies be strong, Richardson said.
Juniors Robin Oliphant and Mrysa McVey are over six feet tall and Richardson said their height is going to be a big advantage for Hillcrest. McVey sat out last season with an injury and Richardson is hoping she will be the Huskies secret weapon since no one in region has seen her play.
“This team is looking strong and we have a lot of leaders out there on the court,” he said. “I trust them explicitly to do their jobs.”
Richardson said he has been working with the girls to be more athletic in the hope that it helps them be more competitive and successful on the court. Not only are the girls fast and athletic this year, many of the girls are also tall, which will give them an edge. Oliphant, McVey and sophomore Tammy Butler are all well over six feet tall.
The season has only just started and the Huskies are using the preseason to work out the bugs and practice playing competitively. Although the team soundly beat Hunter, Richardson said he’s still working out the final starting lineup.
The goal for these ladies remains the same – win every game, including the state title.
“We don’t want to just make it to state, we want to win it,” Richardson said. “If they keep playing intense and working hard, it could happen.”