Archive for the ‘Girls basketball’ Category

Eight grader Kaylee Smith dribbles during a basketball camp in September. The girls basketball team hopes to defend its league title  when the new season begins in January.

Eight grader Kaylee Smith dribbles during a basketball camp in September. The girls basketball team hopes to defend its league title when the new season begins in January.

By Kylee Demauro
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyons girls basketball team is the defending league champion and, as a new season begins, another title is the ultimate goal and expectation.
     Communication is a big part of the team. It helps athletes know their teammates have their backs and they don’t have to worry. It informs others on what to do and how to do certain things.
     “The communication helps by getting the team on the same page and informing others about the play and how things are supposed to go,” said seventh grader Kashmir Baillie. “If we didn’t have communication it would be a mess because no one would know what they are doing.”
     A portion of the girls are feeling pressure on how they do in tryouts, which will be Dec. 19-21. The seventh grade students are more frightened since it is their first time trying out.
     “There is always pressure in tryouts because you can get cut even if you made it the year before,” said eighth grader, Kaylee Smith. “I always worry that I won’t be what they want us to be but we/I try our best.”
     Coach Kimberly Grant has been preparing for the season by having open gym at least once a month. Open gym is when students go to the gym and play different basketball games and have competitions. Coach Grant has also been going to a coach’s clinic.
     “As far as preparing as a coach, I attended the Nike Coach’s Clinic this year and plan to implement some of the ideas I learned at the clinic,” explained Coach Grant.
     The team will have to work on multiple things, such as defense and making sure the opposing team works for every point. On offense, Grant will have players focus on taking care of the ball, and communication. Working together as a team is also very critical.
     “I think that our strengths are communicating with each other and letting our players know we have their backs,” said eighth grader Madonna Parker. “That way it’s more of a team effort and not just a one person effort.”
     The strengths of the team will be working together and getting to know each other, which will help others be more confident. Being stronger as a team will help the girls play better and build friendships.
     “The strengths of our team this year are hopefully going to be encouraging each other no matter what, to push our team forward, and to talk about the plays we run,“ said Smith. “When part of the team is on the bench, we should be cheering people on. Not saying ‘go here,’ ‘do this,’ ‘do that.’”


By Andrea Darnell
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon Junior High’s basketball camp is back. The school is having another basketball camp. There are going to be two different camps, one for girls only and one for girls and guys.
     The girls only camp is for a week, and the boys and girls camp is for two weeks. The girls camp will be run by Coach Kim Grant and co-ed camp will be ran by Coach Scott Stansberry.
     The camps give students an opportunity to practice dribbling, boxing out, blocking, jump-stops, layups, crossover, and layups into a crossover. Both camps play practice games and the girls camp has competitions on the last day of their camp.
     “If people are willing to work hard and have fun, then they would like playing for me,” said Coach Grant. “If they’re not willing to work hard, than they would not like it. I’m all about having fun but you have to work hard.”
     The girls camp will cost $5 and the co-ed camp will cost $50. Coach Grant’s camp will be Aug. 22-26, while Coach Stansberry’s will be Aug. 29-Sept. 8.
     Both coaches believe the camp is beneficial for students who want to improve at basketball and not just those who were on one of the basketball teams last year.
     “I do the same camp every year, it’s like basic basketball, and then I bring kids from the high school team over to help out with the camp,” said Coach Stansberry.
     “I think that any girl that’s not playing softball and wants to play basketball, I’d highly encourage to because it would give them a good idea on what they need to work on and what I am like as a coach,” said Coach Grant.

Lauren Powell drives to the basket during the DMSAL championship game. Cactus Canyon won the game on a last-second shot by Maya Richardson. (Photo by Mr. Davis)

Lauren Powell drives to the basket during the DMSAL championship game. Cactus Canyon won the game, 26,24, on a last-second shot by Maya Richardson. (Photo by Mr. Davis)

By Caitlyn McNear
Cougar News Blog

     It didn’t look good with just a few seconds left in the game, but CCJH’s girls basketball scored a win in the DSMAL championship game against Combs Middle School on March 12.
     Toward the end of the game, the Cougars were ahead by one point, but Combs made two free throws with 17 second left making the outcome for the Cougars look not so great. That was until Maya Richardson made a three-point shot from the side, causing the Cougars to win the game, 26-24.
     “When I made the winning shot, it felt like the biggest rush ever, it felt so great,” said Richardson.
     Not only was Richardson excited about winning the game, but also many of the other girls on the team. They all worked hard and deserved the credit for winning the big game.
     Being apart of the team has affected all the girls apart of the team in many ways. Playing basketball can teach them important lessons.
     “Being apart of the team taught me to be a good leader,” said eighth grader Lola Knotts. “It taught me to not go into games and be cocky or over confident because you never know what the outcome of a game will be no matter how bad the team.”
     In the future, some of the girls plan to stay in basketball for Apache Junction High School. They did a great job, as said by Coach Kim Grant, and deserve to keep playing basketball for the future years.
     “I plan on trying out for basketball next year because Coach Kim said that we were the best team she has ever coached and even though we are losing some players to different schools, I still plan on being an awesome team,” said Knotts.
     Coach Grant said she was proud of how the team didn’t give up and played hard until the end.
     “We definitely didn’t play our best in that championship game, but we gutted out the win,” Grant said. “Rose Gray played incredible defense and showed so much heart. This was a great group of girls to coach and be around.”
     This was the second consecutive Desert Middle School Athletic League title for Cactus Canyon.

Girls basketball players prepare for the new season. (Photo by Brooke Wine)

Girls basketball players prepare for the new season. (Photo by Brooke Wine)

By Jessica M.
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon’s girls basketball team is kicking off the 2016 season with the need to win.
     These students are working very hard to improve from last year. This year’s captains are eighth graders Lola Knotts and Maya Richardson, who played on the team last year. The game itself matters a lot to these students and has been a very important part of their lives.
     “Basketball means everything to me, my dad always played and I always wanted to be just like him. He’s the one that got me started in basketball and I thank him because it’s been the greatest experience of my life,” said Richardson.
     These students are working hard to practice and prepare for this season, in all ways possible. After winning the league title last year, they want to achieve another championship this year. They plan on working hard as a team and individually to become the best players they can become. With only four days a week to practice, they are practicing hard to continue their improvement as a player and a team.
     “I think some of the team strengths are working hard together. A lot of us played together last year so we are used to playing with each other and we know each others strengths and weaknesses so we can work together to make the team amazing,” Knotts said.
     All the players are working hard and practicing a lot. They want to win, but more importantly they want to learn to work as a team.
     “Our goals are to improve every day, have a better understanding of the game of basketball, and to win the championship,” said Coach Kim Grant.
     The goal is for them to improve everyday and fully understand the game of basketball. Coach Grant believes the girls are strongest as a team and are amazing defense players.
     “They will learn how to work hard, that to be successful you have to work as a team, and they will understand basic concepts of basketball,” said Coach Grant.
     The Cougars opened their season with a win over Mountain Vista and continue their season at home on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

By Emily Rutkowski
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon Junior High has been shooting its way through girls basketball season and have started off the season with 4 wins and 2 losses. The Cougars are tied for second place in the Desert Middle Schools Athletic League.
     Coach Kim Grant expects the team to work hard, learn to play better as a team, and hopefully win the championship and take their second consecutive title.
Coach Grant said the basketball team has competitive this year in the league, and has still has high hopes for the season.
     “I think we will be competitive in the league and our goal is to win the championship, but there are other good teams out in the league,” said Coach Grant.
     The team practices after school every day until 5 p.m. and is looking on to improve its skills. Seventh grader Brooke Gordon says the team has improved since the beginning of the season.
     “Since day one we have been working better as a team, and our dribbling and shooting skills have improved a lot,” said Gordon.
     The Cougars travel around Pinal County for their games on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The DMSAL playoffs will be Saturday, March 7, at Coolidge High School.


By Holly S.
Cougar News Blog

Without freshman student coach, Jacob Briones, things would definitely be more chaotic for the Cougar sports teams.
Briones has supported both boys and girls basketball teams this year by helping to set up for games and practices. He makes sure everything runs smoothly for coaches and athletes at all times.
Briones went to Cactus Canyon for his seventh and eighth grade years. He was the boys basketball team manager last season. Since moving up to high school Briones came back to CCJH to take up the position as student coach for both basketball teams.
Both of the coaches are impressed with Briones’ persistence and dedication to the teams. Boys coach Scott Stansberry said Briones is different than other volunteers his work ethic is different than most.
“He works as if he is getting paid, never misses anything and does everything to the best of his capability,” said Stansberry.
Not only does he help set up but he also helps with students by guiding the players, preparing them for games, but most importantly pushing them to achieve.
The coaches are impressed with his work and can possibly see him having a future at Cactus Canyon.
“I do believe Jacob has a future at CCJH. He is eager to learn and is always asking questions to better himself,” said Stansberry. “With all the things that I have mentioned about him, I would not hesitate to recommend Jacob.”
Briones has had such a great time that he’s also wanting to continue his work at the school.
“I plan to do this for a while,” he said. “Volunteering can get you places, it’s a good thing to put down on applications for work, college, etc. I love working with the coaches and administration and the athletes.”

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By Anna Gray
Cougar News Blog

Cactus Canyon recently took home two championship trophies on the same day. On March 8 the tournaments that would determine the DMSAL champions of girls basketball and football were held at Apache Junction High School.
The title was the second consecutive for the football team, which had a rough start to their season and lost their first two games. But throughout the rest of season they continued to improve and never lost another game. As for girls basketball, they had a good season as well only taking home one loss.
“It was incredible. Honestly, the first two minutes of the championship game was amazing,” said girls basketball coach, Kim Grant. “ I don’t think I have ever coached or played on a team that dominated the start of game like our girls did.”
For both teams, it was difficult working their way up to winning the championship. A lot of hard work and dedication was put into the process. Both teams practiced about two hours a day four to five times each week.
“It took a lot of work. We worked hard each practice and by the end of each day we were exhausted,” said eighth-grade basketball player Carma Ihler. “In the end, though, it paid off.”
Winning both championships made the athletes of Cactus Canyon very proud. It was the first for the girls basketball team. Both teams will receive recognition by having a team picture hung in the gym.
After the 0-2 start, nobody expected the football players to win it all. Through hard work and dedication they were able to exceed their expectations.
“I hope our players realize that through hard work and dedication, they can accomplish great things,” said football coach Jerry Paterson.
“I learned that if everyone works as a team, you can win in the end,” said quarterback Blake Fitch.

By Anna Gray
Cougar News Blog

The Lady Cougars have dribbled into the new basketball season with three wins. So far Cactus Canyon has defeated Mountain Vista, Hohokam, and Desert Wind.
Twenty-five girls made the team this year with 11 on the A team, and 14 on the B team. The girls practiced for about two weeks before their first game, learning new drills, plays, and defenses.
So far the hard work has been worth the struggle with an undefeated A team. The B team also recently earned their first win with the help of their new coach, Sierra Aulik. Coach Kim Widmer is pushing the team in hopes to have a good spot in the tournament. The team placed third last year, but this year, with this team she believes that they can place higher.
“I really believe we can take championships this year,” said eighth grader Jessica Sigler.
For some of the returning players tryouts were not as nerve wracking as last year, but for the new players the process was more frightening. Tryouts lasted for about three days where the girls were able to demonstrate ball control and playing techniques. Throughout this process coaches were able to give advice to the players. On the last day, cuts were made and the teams were separated.
“It was nerve racking when the day came when coach called me over to tell me whether or not I made the team,” said Sigler.
The team will continue to work toward their goal through practice and games. The team is becoming more of a family every day at practice and hopes to continue.
“Hopefully the girls learn that it takes hard work to be successful and get to experience the family atmosphere of being on a team,” said Coach Widmer.

By Sommer Middleton
Cougar News Blog

As their season comes to an end with a regular-season record of 5-4, the Lady Cougars basketball team is working harder than ever.
While working on getting better shots and communicating, they are building upon their already strong defense, which the team hopes will help it win in the playoffs. CCJH will compete in the Desert Middle School Athletic League playoffs on Saturday, March 9.
“Our main strength this season is our defensive plays because you can’t win a game without good defense,” said eighth grader Mattie Fahrenbruch.
Another one of the team’s strong spots has been its teamwork. All through the season the team has as worked on playing as a group, rather than individuals.
“The girls have done a great job trying to work together as a team,” said Coach Kim Widmer. “My goal for them as a team was to just improve and try to teach them as much as I could during the short season. I also want the girls to feel a part of a family and know that as a team you can be a lot more successful than you can as an individual.”
The Cougars, who earned the league’s No. 3 seed, play Hohokam Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Coolidge High School. Cactus Canyon went 1-1 against the Bulldogs in the regular season and would advance to the championship game with a victory.
“Our goal is to hopefully go to the championships,” said Widmer.

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By Sammi Sobel
Staff writer

The girls basketball team didn’t make the playoffs this year, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a successful season. The team finished with a record of 4-7, but improved their fundamentals and skills a great deal over the course of the season.
Coach Dale Richardson said as the girls worked harder, they began to improve and win.
“By the end of the season we were a pretty good team, we ended up winning more than we thought we could due to hard work and commitment,” said Richardson.
Eighth grader Falann Mattison played basketball for two seasons at CCJH and also participated in a basketball camp over the summer. She believes she was able to improve on a lot over the season.
“I feel like I improved my shooting, dribbling, and running the plays better,” Mattison said.
Over the season, basketball skills and fundamentals weren’t the only things the players were able to improve on. Coach Richardson taught the girls lessons in order for them to be confident while playing the game. Mattison learned something from Richardson that she thought out to be helpful to her throughout the season.
“The game isn’t all about winning or losing,” Mattison said. “It’s about how you did individually and as a team.” Mattison said.
Bailey Klitzke, who decided to try out basketball for the first time this year, also said she learned a lot from the season.
“I enjoyed playing basketball this season because Coach Richardson really showed me how to start to play basketball,” Klitzke said. “ I think I became a better basketball player overall.”