PORTAGEVILLE -- Fresh off of a district title in Class 3, the Portageville Lady Bulldogs now look to continue their hot streak in Class 2. The move to the lower class eliminates the recent rivalry that the Lady Bulldogs have composed against the Kelly Lady Hawks, but head coach Eric Ellerbrook says that there are several teams in their new district that could pose just as much of a problem come district tournament time.
"We've got Campbell, Neelyville, Senath, South Pemiscot, Hayti and another team or two (to compete against)," Ellerbrook said. "When it comes down to districts everybody's going to be tough. It's the old cliché on that kind of stuff."
The Lady Bulldogs lost three players to graduation, Mallory Bidewell, Mary Hannah Fisher and Kellye Penn after finishing the season 25-4.
"We're coming off of a successful season last year," said Ellerbrook. "We lost three good seniors and we're going to miss all three a lot. We're returning five seniors and four juniors and all nine will probably get a lot of playing time."
"We're going to try to play hard, press, push the ball up the court and play the best defense we can. Hopefully everybody can keep a good attitude."
Ellerbrook said that the squad returning has been working extremely hard to prepare for the season and he believes that if they put up a 'good, hard defense' then they'll be okay.
"I've been really proud of our girls coming out and working as hard as they can," said Ellerbrook. "They seem focused and determined to play and to go out and fight and scratch for every possession. I hope they continue to do that throughout the season and just keep a good attitude."
ORAN -- The Oran Lady Eagles basketball team will look to build around their core of returning starters from last year as they enter the 2008-2009 season.
Oran head coach Adam Friga said that although his team is young, they bring plenty of experience to the table.
"We are young this year, but we do have a lot of returning veterans," Friga said. "We started two sophomores and a freshmen last year on varsity. Our girls have a lot of valuable experience at this level and have played together for a while."
Friga notes Shane King, Abbey Anderson, Claire Seyer, and Kirstie Mangels as "key returning starters" from last season.
Friga also looks for seniors Taylor Tenkhoff and Natalie Glasstetter, in addition to Mangels to play a role.
Friga points out defense as his teams primary strength.
"Our main strength this year will be defense," he said. "Whether that is a half-court set or pressing, we feel that we can really get up on people and play good defense."
However, Friga feels that outside shooting will be a challenge for his team.
"We don't have a lot of outside shooting," he said. "We don't have any girls who will go out and knock down six or seven threes in a night. We have a couple of girls that are good shooters, but you can never have enough. So I think outside shooting will be a challenge for us."
Friga says that defensive rebounding has been a "big focus" for his squad in practice.
Friga also notes "hustle" in addition to defense as keys to his teams ability to be competitive in the upcoming season.
Friga said that his teams attitude might be their biggest asset.
"We have a lot of good kids," he said. "I'm blessed in that aspect. Practice is fun for us everyday. Our girls come in with a good attitude. They know and meet our expectations of what we want out of them. We just have a really good group of kids."
The Lady Eagles will kick of the 2008-2009 season Dec. 8 at the Chaffee Tournament.
Stories by Matthew Bain and Josh Mills of the Standard Democrat sports department.