Head coach: Chris McGowen, 12-11 in second year at LaCrosse and overall.

Assistant: Jeff Yergler

Last year: 12-11, lost to Oregon-Davis in Class A sectional semifinals.

Key losses: Katie Bell (14.7 ppg.; dislocated patella, torn ACL), Claire Garwood (11.5 ppg.; torn ACL), Taylor Kleine, Jackie Osornio.



Jersie Bartels`5-9`So.`F

Krystal Best`5-7`So.`F

Hailey O'Brien`5-6`So.`G

Kaylee Welkie`5-7`Jr.`F

Rain Walker`5-7`Jr.`F

Emily Pontbriand`5-1`Jr.`G

Mya Morrow`5-9`Sr.`G

Madi Heavilin`6-0`Sr.`G-F

Morgan Wozniak`5-9`Sr.`F

Sami Vance`5-9`Sr.`F

Claire Garwood`5-10`Sr.`F

(No projected starters provided)

Player to watch: Morrow. Season-ending injuries to LaCrosse's two best players last season in Bell and Garwood have thrust Morrow squarely into the limelight in her senior season. She's a crafty player with the ball, able to find the open teammate on any possession. "After games, she'll never ask me how many points she scored," McGowen said. "She'll always ask how many assists she got though. That's what she cares about most." While Morrow has always been a selfless player, she will need to take much more responsibility for the team's scoring this year. McGowen has been impressed with her ability to drive the lane and flip the switch from a passer to a scorer in their practices and scrimmages so far this year.

Newcomer to watch: Welkie. With Bell and Garwood out, the Tigers are missing an average of a whopping 25.3 points per game in scoring from last year. That being said, McGowen will need other girls to step up in that aspect. Morrow will likely be LaCrosse's primary scoring option, but Welkie, who split time between varsity and junior varsity last year, could very well be the next-best scorer now. "My first year here as the JV coach, she led my JV in scoring and rebounding," McGowen said. "She can play the guard position, she can play inside. She's got a nose for the ball, she's a pretty good rebounder. She's gonna have to step up her game this year with Katie and Claire gone."

Outlook: What looked to be such a promising season for LaCrosse quickly turned into a season of adversity. Bell was poised to dominate the Class A competition this year, as she averaged a double-double last season (14.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg), shooting 56 percent from the field. Her play down low combined with senior wing Garwood's outside shooting (10.8 ppg, 45 3-s) looked like one of the best small-school duos in the region, ready to top their already impressive junior campaigns. However, Bell dislocated her patella (knee) and tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during volleyball this year, while Garwood tore her ACL recently as well. McGowen has ruled Bell out for the season and left her off the roster because of it, but if rehabilitation goes well for Garwood, she could come back and join the team as early as January. Still, losing his two best players put a wrench in his plans for this season. "As horrible as both those injuries are, they kind of brought the team together in a way," McGowen said. "Going through that kind of adversity losing both of them, the girls will have to play more as a unit and together now. Lots of passing and moving the ball around (will be keys to our success)." Bell and Garwood are still active parts of the team, as McGowen promoted both of them to "graduate assistant" positions due to their injuries. They both go to practices and help coach up the remaining players. Morrow (5.2 ppg, 4.7 apg) has all of a sudden been pushed into the Tigers' primary scoring role, something she's not used to doing. The pass-first point guard is confident in her ability to get to the basket, however, and is aiming for 15 points per game this year. If she does that, then she has no doubts about LaCrosse's ability to win games.

— Jack Parodi

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