ATLANTIC – The learning curve will be there for the Atlantic girls’ basketball team this season.
Coach Dan Vargason will start four new players in the starting lineup as they prepare for today’s home opener against Denison-Schleswig.
Jada Jensen is the lone returning starter for the Trojans, which last year had four seniors in the starting lineup. Those four were the core that was part of the team’s continuing climb up the Hawkeye Ten Conference ladder, but Jensen was a huge part of that effort as well. The team went 9-14 a year ago, advancing to the Iowa Class 3A regional semifinals before bowing to an eventual statebound team from Cherokee.
Jensen, a 5’10” point guard who was honorable mention all-Hawkeye Ten last winter, had a solid sophomore season, starting 22 of 23 games. Now a junior had 10.8 points per game, ranking her as the team’s second leading scorer last year with 250 points. She is also the lone returning player in the conference to have more than 80 assists and 80 steals, with 84 and 87, respectively. She also averaged 4.8 rebounds per contest.
Back to the basketball court after not going out a year ago is Aubrey Guyer, the 6’0” junior who gives the Trojans a strong inside presence.
In addition to Guyer and Jensen, the Trojans were expected to start seniors Aspen Niklasen and Malena Woodward, and junior Madison Huddleson. Niklasen saw primarily role playing duty last year, scoring nine points, while Woodward (11 points) and Huddleson (13 points) were the junior varsity’s top-two players and are expected to make solid contributions this season.
Top players coming off the bench will probably be freshman Paytn Harter, and sophomores Jade Harter and Claire Pellett. Also on the team are sophomores Belle Berg, junior Kiera Olsen and senior Chensia Narios.
In a conference where it is tough night in and night out, the clear favorite is expected to be Glenwood, the returning Iowa Class 4A state runner-up that has most of their key players back. From there, Council Bluffs Lewis Central, Council Bluffs St. Albert, Harlan and Creston were expected to be among the top challengers for the second spot, while Shenandoah and Carroll Kuemper Catholic are expected to be much improved from last year.