The Dalles girls basketball practice

Filled with optimism, The Dalles will try to balance new coaches and players.

Following a short, 10-game spring season that concluded in June, The Dalles High Riverhawks girls basketball team is back on the hardwood floor preparing for the upcoming Class 5A season.

The Riverhawks will have a little different team while adjusting to the loss of talented departed seniors Cadence Snyder, Keisha Oregon, and Hanna Ziegenhagen. The Hawks started practice Nov. 15 in preparation for the season which begins with a 5 p.m. jamboree at Stevenson High School in Stevenson, Wash., on Dec. 2. The Hawks have an enthusiastic and optimistic outlook under the direction of new Head Coach Darcey Hodges.

“Everything’s going pretty good; we’re a young team and it’s a fun group that wants to learn and they want to work hard, so I’m excited to work with them,” said Hodges, a 1999 The Dalles High graduate. “The Rojas twins and the Crichton-Tunai twins have been doing very well with their hustle and hard-working attitude that they’ve shown.

“Natasha Muzechenko has a great outside shot and she’s a hard worker who can drive well to the basket. Zoe LeBreton is a good all-around player who can play anywhere I need her to, whether it’s at point guard, at post or at the wing. Sidney Newby is a good inside post player who is also our tallest player and she’s been doing well in practice.”

This marks the third consecutive year that The Dalles has had a new head coach. For Hodges, who is the Riverhawks’ assistant girls soccer coach, it’s the first head coaching job of her career at The Dalles High.

The Dalles has a young team, led by senior twin sisters Monica and Marisa Rojas and Muzechenko, a junior. The squad has a quartet of sophomores in LeBreton, Jeilane Stewart and twin sisters Kaleyah and Keiliani Crichton-Tunai along with the 6-foot frosh post Newby. Stewart is currently sidelined with an injured wrist and when she recovers and returns to the lineup later this season, she’ll be the Hawks’ starting point guard.

The Dalles has 30 players, including 11 frosh, that make-up the varsity, JV and JV2 teams.

“I feel like one night it might be this girl that scores a lot, and then another night, it might be another girl who scores often, so things are kind of up in the air about who our go-to scorer could be,” said Hodges. “Hopefully, we’ll play more team offense and kind of get everyone involved and whoever is having a good shooting night then we’ll try to get them as many shots as they can.”

The Hawks play their first game of a 23-game schedule Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. versus the Class 6A McKay Scots at McKay High School in Salem. The Dalles plays the Parkrose High Broncos of Portland in its opening home game Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. at Kurtz Gym. The 10-game Intermountain Conference season starts Jan. 14 on the road in Central Oregon with a matchup against the Redmond Panthers at Redmond High School.