The Prairie City Panther girls basketball team is beginning the season with all of last year’s starters returning, and additional talent, ready to hit the gas.
Head coach Bo Workman hopes having the talent and a few more athletes this season — 12 this year, compared to eight last year — will translate into success.
“Three of the seniors have started and had a lot of playing time,” he said.
Three juniors, who were starters last year as sophomores, are all back, and five strong freshmen are also bringing their middle school experience to the team.
Seniors are Rilee Emmel, Hailee Wall, Emily Ennis and Aleah Johns.
Emmel scored 13 points against the Adrian Antelopes at last year’s High Desert League District tournament, landing three 3-pointers.
She’s looking forward to bonding with her team during upcoming road trips. The Panthers will have six road games in December before they host the Echo Cougars on Jan. 10.
Emmel said their offense is looking good this season.
“We have bigger girls for post players, so I’m excited to see how it goes down low,” she said.
“I’m excited for the numbers we have,” Ennis said. “My goal for the season is to make it fun for my senior year and to make it memorable.”
Johns said she’s seeing a lot of potential in the underclassmen.
“I’m excited to see how they progress through the season,” she said. “My goal is to make the most out of this year.”
Wall said she’s also eager to see how the freshmen play this season.
“I’m looking forward to what we’ll bring out this year,” she said. “We made a team goal to make it to state, hit some good milestones and make it a fun year.”
Workman began his tenure as varsity girls coach when this year’s seniors were freshmen.
“They’re the leaders,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a little deeper bench to give players some rest at times.”
Workman, who also coaches the boys varsity team this season, has his father Mike Workman back as assistant coach.
Mike said they always have high hopes at the beginning of the season.
Having greater numbers is one of the positives this season.
“We have some strong freshmen coming in,” Mike said. “(They were) highly successful on the junior high team — I don’t think they lost many games.”
He said the teams in the league they’re watching out for include the Adrian Antelopes, Jordan Valley Mustangs and Crane Mustangs.
“Crane’s a powerhouse the next couple of years,” Mike said. “They’re definitely a contender for a state title, no question. They’re one of the favorites.”
Other teams in the 1A High Desert League include: the Dayville/Monument Tigers, Long Creek/Ukiah Mountain Lions, Burnt River Bulls, Four Rivers Falcons, Harper Hornets and Huntington Locomotives.
Juniors, who were starters last year as sophomores, are Abbey Pfefferkorn, Samantha Workman and Katie Hire.
Bo said the team is sharpening their skills on defense.
“We’ve got the numbers to play a little more aggressive defense,” he said. “I see us being competitive.”
Prairie City girls basketball schedule
Dec. 6: @ Joseph, 6 p.m.
Dec. 7: @ Imbler in Joseph, noon
Dec. 13: @ Badger Tournament vs. Council (ID) in North Powder, 6 p.m.
Dec. 14: @ Badger Tournament vs. Tri-Valley (ID) in North Powder, 1:30 p.m.
Dec. 20: @ Sherman in Moro, 4:30 p.m.
Dec. 21: @ Hood River JV in Hood River, 4:00 p.m.
Dec. 30: @ Crane, 5 p.m.
Jan. 3: @ Imbler, 6 p.m.
Jan. 4: vs. Cove, 2 p.m.
Jan. 10: vs. Echo, 6 p.m.
Jan. 17: vs. Dayville/Monument, 6 p.m.
Jan. 18: vs. Ukiah/Long Creek, 2 p.m.
Jan. 24: @ Burnt River in Unity 6 p.m.
Jan. 25: vs. Jordan Valley, 2 p.m.
Jan. 31: @ Huntington, 6 p.m.
Feb. 1: vs. Four Rivers, 2 p.m.
Feb. 7: @ Harper, 5 p.m.
Feb. 8: Dayville/Monument in Dayville, 2 p.m.
Feb. 14: @ Adrian, 5 p.m.
Feb. 15: vs. Crane, 2 p.m.
Feb. 20-22: High Desert League District Tournament, John Day
Feb. 25: 1st Round State Playoffs
Feb. 28: 2nd Round State Playoffs
March 4-7: State Championship, Baker City