Returning starters is always a good measuring stick to judge how well a team’s season might go. If they have two over fewer that likely means there are a few question marks on the roster. Anywhere from three to five and you have a pretty decent idea what to expect from a team.
The Platte Valley girls’ basketball may be breaking new ground this season with 12 players coming back this season.
The team is entering their first season as Platte Valley basketball after Jefferson and South Nodaway agreed to co-op in boys’ and girls’ basketball — meaning that they now co-op in every sport. The move was made as a preemptive measure due to the shrinking numbers of children in junior high and elementary school at each school.
“With any new group of girls, you are going to have some growing pains so that is to be expected a little bit this year,” Jefferson student Malia Collins said. “So far, everyone has gotten along really well and I am really excited for the season.”
The timing of the move still means that the boys’ basketball program has four returning starters between the two teams, but South Nodaway has five returning starters; counting Hannah Wilmes, who was injured midway through last season; and Jefferson has four starters back.
The program had three more proven players with juniors Paige West, Madelynn Mattson and Blair Stoll transferring from Northeast Nodaway to Jefferson.
“It is really fun and exciting,” West said of the competition on the Platte Valley roster.
Their playing status for the year is in doubt until Jefferson files the transfer forms in the fall. MSHSAA could decide to make them immediately eligible or hold them out for the school year.
While their future for the actual season remains in flux, Platte Valley has its full roster for the summer and coach Tyler Pedersen likes the way the team is coming together during the summer in their scrimmages.
“Everything I’ve seen this summer has been great,” Pedersen said after a scrimmage. “You saw it in there, right? They shared the ball. They moved. They made the extra pass. … There are some learning curves, but for the most part, it has been really, really good.”
The South Nodaway and Jefferson players working together is nothing new with many of them participating softball and track and field as a co-op as well as junior high basketball.
“I definitely think already knowing the girls and having connections with them is definitely going to help us play with them this year,” Collins said.
With so many experienced players, there will be intense battles for each starting spot in the Platte Valley lineup and for every minute of court time.
“It is going to be be a battle, that is for sure, but it is that way for every year you start basketball,” Collins said. “Everybody is going to fight for that starting-five spot — it just might be a little harder this year.”
The experience playing against each other also has helped the team in the early going with Kaylin LaMaster, Collins and West each guarding each other as point guards in previous years with their former teams. Now they can use that experience to help their new teammates.
“We can give each other different insights on different things because we’ve all played similar positions,” LaMaster said.
All the talent and proven players on the roster should lead to a fun inaugural season for Platte Valley.
“We’ve talked a lot about playing with effort when you are on the floor,” Pedersen said. “You have to play hard because we’ve got so many girls that can play because you might as well work as hard as you can while you are out there, because in three or four minutes, you are going to get a break. We’ve approached it that way during the summer.”
Editor’s Note: For an opinion piece on the Platte Valley girls’ basketball team and its additions, check out this week’s ‘Spike Speaks’ column from the Forum’s sports editor Jon Dykstra. MSHSAA did not respond to an email regarding the Jefferson transfers.