Oakley High School
Conference: 1AD1 Snake River Conference
Classification: 1A D1
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Head Coach: Matt Payton
Years as Head Coach: 5th Season
Previous Experience: Oakley Boys JV
Record Last Year: 18-6
State Titles: 1930
Talia Elquist, G, 12
Brittany Hardy, P, 11
Rachael Mitton, P, 11
Dixie Whittle, G, 12
Returning Players with Honors:
Talia Elquist, All-Conference
Key Players lost from last year:
Jayci Hawker, G
Rhendi Payton, PG
Abbey Jones, G
Haley Critchfield, P
All four were at least two year starters for the program and great leaders.
Incoming impact players:
Brittany Hardy, P, leading scorer from last year coming back from ACL surgery. Lost her game six of last season. Several good junior players that were a part of a JV squad that has gone 42-0 over the past two years.
Written by: Sven Alskog
Replacing four multiple year starters is no easy task. For Oakley, that task is now a reality after the graduation of Jayci Hawker, Rhendi Payton, Abbey Jones and Haley Critchfield.
If there is any silver lining for the Hornets and fifth year Head Coach Matt Payton it is that senior All-Conference guard Talia Elquist returns to be the floor leader.
Elquist does have help around her, and while it is less experienced than previous years, the potential is still there to be a strong group.
"We are a very unselfish team with the ability for anyone to score," said Payton.
Hidden beneath the success of the varsity program has been the utter domination of the JV Hornets, a squad that has gone 42-0 over the past two seasons. Those are the players who will step in and look to continue the winning culture.
Brittany Hardy comes back off ACL surgery to man the post, a position she will stabilize after missing all but six games in 2015/2016. During her time on the floor Hardy was the leading scorer for Oakley.
Senior guard Dixie Whittle will also be asked to provide a scoring punch and defensive intensity in a large role.
She is the kind of player that fits what the Hornets want to do on the defensive side of the floor.
"Our program culture is to play hardnosed defense and outwork our opponents," said Payton.
Having such a strong core coming up from JV will help in regards to depth, where Payton has plenty of options to go to.
"[With our] team depth should be able to play 8-9 pretty easy. [Good] team chemistry."
One of the key areas for improvement over last year is rebounding, something which Hardy can be a leader in for the new campaign.
Expect the Hornets to once again be competitive near the top of the conference, even factoring in the losses of four multiple year starters.