Hood River girls basketball preview

Emma Kroll defends against The Dalles last season.

Hood River Valley girls basketball Coach Steve Noteboom said the process continues to improve the skill level of Eagle players — in order to get them ready to play in the competitive Intermountain Conference.

Noteboom will rely on six seniors to help usher that process along this season, including three with varsity experience.

“We have to spend a lot of time working on skill work to get the girls ready to play at the 5A level,” Noteboom, in his third season as head coach, explained. “As the girls get more experience, I want them to get the confidence that they can be successful. We saw glimpses of some really good basketball last year, but we just didn’t have the experience or confidence to put 32 minutes together.”

HRV finished the abbreviated spring season with a 0-13 record, including an 0-10 mark in Intermountain play.

The seniors who Noteboom is counting on to help get the team ready for its Dec. 1 season opener against visiting Gladstone are returnees Lauren Griggs, Emma Kroll and Reese Leiblein, and newcomers Zoe Linder and Abigayle Witt-Inman.

“Lauren, Emma and Reese have varsity experiences, and we will rely on them to play minutes because of our plan to be more aggressive on the defensive end,” Noteboom said. “Zoe and Abi did not play in our program last year, but we will need Zoe’s point guard experience and Abi’s athleticism. (Senior) Brissa Elias-Rojas is a natural leader in school and will play a supportive role on the team.”

Junior Mallory McNerney is a returning starter at post, and sophomore Marina Castaneda is also a returning starter and the Eagles’ leading scorer in the spring season at 14 points a game. Castaneda was second team all-league in the IMC conference in the spring. Junior Ximena Santillan and sophomores Teigan Slatt, Ryann Rosselle, Abby Schrankel and Megan Griggs also have varsity experience.

“Mallory is a returning starter in the post, and we expect her to give us considerable minutes. Ximena has some varsity experience, and we will need her for her quickness,” Noteboom said, adding that HRV will rely heavily on its sophomore group.

The Eagles have struggled in league play for a number of years. Noteboom, who worked with HRV girls teams at the younger age levels before taking over as head coach in the 2010-20 season, inherited a varsity program that had a 2-50 conference record since 2014.

Noteboom said Pendleton and Ridgeview will be the favorites in the IMC once again. “We did a much better job of competing against these teams in the second half of the season last year and with another year of experience and physical growth, we will be more competitive,” he said.