Grant Union is returning all of last season’s Lady Prospector starters this year, including Hailie Wright, Kaylee Wright, Mariah Moulton, Madi McKrola and Trinity Hutchison.

New head coach Casey Hallgarth is leading the team, taking over where previous head coach Mark Mosley left off. Hallgarth’s assistant coaches are Kristi Moore and Christal Culley.

“These two coaches have been amazing,” he said. “It’s been great so far, and we’re all jelling.”

Hallgarth, a sixth-grade teacher at Humbolt Elementary School, has been a Grant Union assistant varsity coach and was girls junior varsity coach last year, boys junior varsity coach the year before and junior high boys coach the two years previous. He also spent eight years coaching the Elgin boys basketball team, coaching the Elgin junior varsity boys for one year before that.

There are 20 girls out for basketball, including 11 on the varsity team, this year.

While Hailie and Kaylee Wright, Moulton, McKrola and Hutchison are back as starters, Hallgarth said he’s expecting his entire team to contribute this season.

“One thing we’re stressing this year is that there’s not one girl that shouldn’t be tired,” he said. “Our goal as coaches is, even if you’re the 11th person on the bench, you will be tired.”

Hallgarth said, as the team competed in games last summer, he shared his ideas about basketball.

“They started buying into my philosophy,” he said.

That includes being fast getting up and down the floor, playing hard every possession, being a great teammate and having fun.

“Effort is key,” he added. “If we have effort on both sides of the ball, we should do great.”

So far, the team is off to a positive start, winning their first tournament in Moro last weekend after beating Culver 51-32 and Sherman 90-15.

Hallgarth said he’s running a new offense and defense, and said they should be strong on shooting and driving and speed.

“Our seniors are going to play a pivotal role this season in our success,” he said.

Seniors this season are Moulton, Whitney McClellan, Mariah Wright and Fallon Weaver. Hallgarth said he stresses leadership from them, whether they’re in the game or watching.

“There’s a certain demeanor they need to possess to encourage the younger players,” he said.

Moulton said she hopes their success in volleyball — the team won the state championship — will carry over to basketball.

“We play together well, and we’ve known each other a long time,” she said.

Mariah Wright said she thinks this season will be a fun one.

“We have a team that clicks and our practices are full of energy,” she said.

Weaver said the team is fast and they get along well. McClellan agreed.

“Everyone’s really encouraging,” she said. “I think my last year is going to be my best year.”

Grant Union will face Elgin, Imbler, Enterprise and Union in the 2A Wapiti League.

He expects Enterprise and Union to be the most competitive, but added, “Nothing’s a given, but if we play good basketball day in and day out, we should be in good shape this year.”

He said “90 mph” is their current theme.

“We’ll hit our stride at districts, so we can make a run into the post season, but we need all our girls playing top-notch basketball,” he said. “Our expectations are high here because of what Mark Mosley has done for the program. He set the bar, and now I’m coming in with some new coaches.”

He added, “Our expectations are high, and if we play at the level that we’re capable of, the sky’s the limit.”

Grant Union girls basketball schedule

Dec. 8-9: @ Enterprise Winter Classic, TBD

Dec. 12: vs. Burns in John Day at 6 p.m.

Dec. 15: vs. Weston-McEwen in John Day at 6 p.m.

Dec. 16: @ Heppner at 4 p.m.

Dec. 21-23: @ Nyssa Basketball Tournament at 2 p.m./TBD

Jan. 4: @ Weston-McEwen at 6 p.m.

Jan. 6: @ Lakeview at 4 p.m.

Jan. 9: junior varsity vs. Dayville varsity, 5 p.m.

Jan. 12: vs. Elgin at 6 p.m.

Jan. 13: @ Union at 4 p.m.

Jan. 16: @ Burns at 6 p.m.

Jan. 19: @Imbler at 6 p.m.

Jan. 20: @ Baker, TBD

Jan. 26: vs. Enterprise at 6 p.m.

Jan. 27: @ Elgin at 4 p.m.

Jan. 30: junior varsity @ Dayville varsity at 5 p.m.

Feb. 2: vs. Union at 6 p.m.

Feb. 3: vs. Imbler at 4 p.m.

Feb. 6: vs. Crane at 6 p.m. (senior night)

Feb. 8: vs. Jordan Valley at 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 10: @ Enterprise at 4 p.m.

Feb. 16: District Playoffs at La Grande High School

Feb. 17: District Playoffs at La Grande High School

Feb. 24: First Round State Playoffs

March 1-3: State Championships in Pendleton

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