ADAIR VILLAGE — A work in progress with plenty of athleticism and talent.
That’s how coach Wendi Farris views her Santiam Christian High girls basketball team as the season gets underway.
The Eagles’ roster features one senior, Kalli Ropp, with six sophomores and four freshmen. The team has had just two practices together in the first two weeks, leading to some rough moments.
But that isn’t bothering Farris.
“We’re going to take our bumps early, but at the end of the season we’re going to be right in the mix of things,” she said.
SC got its weaknesses exposed Wednesday and came away with a list of areas to work on after a 44-27 home loss to Blanchet Catholic, the defending 3A state champion. With nine returners, the Cavaliers are the favorites to win it again.
Ropp started the game along with sophomores Aliyah Atkins, Sophey Roberts and Shea Carley and freshman Audrey Miller. Atkins, Ropp and freshman Sailor Allman shared team-high scoring honors with six points apiece. Ana Coronado led Blanchet with 13.
“We have a lot of potential, I think,” said Ropp, a returning all-league player. “We’re a young team, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get better.”
Being the only senior, Ropp has taken on a leadership role. At first she saw the responsibility as a lot of pressure.
“But now it’s a way for me to encourage the girls and be their leader by example or by my words and how they should be when they’re seniors,” she said.
Farris says working together is going to be her team’s strength. Experience will also be a key.
The players will feel the pressure of having to step up, and Farris is interested to see how they handle it.
Against Blanchet, the Eagles struggled against defensive traps and experienced some first-game jitters. They worked better on the offensive end after halftime to score 21 of their 27 points.
“I thought we settled down pretty well in the second half and we did some good things,” Farris said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but I also have a lot to work with.”
The Eagles fell one win short of the state tournament last season and Farris isn’t counting her team out this time around.
“It’s going to be determined by the girls,” the coach said. “If they get in and work and continue to improve like they have, we’re going to be right there.”
Farris has consistent expectations for her program: to be in the top two or three in league and compete for a state tournament berth.
The Eagles have eight games total before opening West Valley League play Jan. 3 at home against Amity, the team they beat in the league playoffs last year.
SC is hoping to use the nonleague games as a time to build chemistry and help the freshmen get used to playing at the varsity level.
Farris is looking for effort, for her players to go hard and not be afraid of failing.
“I’m hoping to see a lot more confidence in each other because we’re a good team,” Ropp added. “We have good athletes on the team. It’s just for them to have confidence in themselves.”