Lady Pirates ranked high in preseason poll


    Staff Writer

    SUN photo/Randi Pierce
    Haleigh Zenz looks for the shot during a pre-Thanksgiving practice, while Alicia Valdez defends and Taylor Strohecker looks on. The season has arrived for both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. The Lady Pirates take on the Sanford Indians in Sanford at 5:30 p.m. Friday night.

    Entering the season as the No. 7 ranked 3A team in the state according to the Denver Post preseason coaches’ poll, the Lady Pirates look to start the season with a bang tomorrow night, when they open their season against the 2A Sanford Indians.

    But, on the heels of injuries to key players and a holiday break, that may prove to be a challenge for the team.

    “We’re probably a little behind where we should be,” Coach Wes Lewis said. Prior to Thanksgiving break, the team’s two Taylors — Taylor Strohecker and Taylor Hammer-Lee — collided on the court. Both were released to practice on Tuesday.

    “Luckily, Taylor Strohecker … she’s been there for two full years and started last year, so she’s not going to have as much catching up to do,” Lewis said. Hammer-Lee is a freshman.

    Beyond the injuries and holiday, Lewis also expressed concern over the team’s free throw shooting, stating that the players had not had enough time to work on the skill.

    Too, Lewis hopes his athletes share the responsibility of rebounding, versus relying on the post position and Strohecker.

    But don’t consider the team a wash.

    Lewis highlights the team’s depth on the bench, as well as in the guard and post positions.

    “I think the girls are pretty solid defensively,” Lewis said, adding that the team applies good pressure on the ball.

    Strohecker’s ability to start will be evaluated prior to the game. Other anticipated starters in the game include the team’s lone senior Haleigh Zenz, Emily Bryant, Anissa Lucero and Payton Shahan.

    Beyond this Friday’s game, the No. 7 Pirates have stiff competition ahead of them, both in league play and out.

    Denver School of Science and Technology, who the Pirates will play at the Buena Vista tournament, enter the season as the top-ranked team.

    Within the league, Lewis said, “Centauri is going to be really, really tough,” calling the team a front runner.

    The Falcons were ranked fifth in the preseason poll.

    Lewis also expects Alamosa to be much improved in the Mean Moose’s second season under the current coach with the team expected to have a strong freshmen contingent.

    Bayfield, too, is expected to be tough despite losing a number of players, with Lewis stating the Wolverines had a strong JV presence last year that could transition into a competitive varsity.

    The unknown in the league in Lewis’ eyes in Monte Vista, with a new coach.

    The Lady Pirates will, however, got one test before taking on Sanford, playing Durango High School in a Wednesday night scrimmage. No results from that scrimmage were available by presstime.