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Placer poised to maintain

Young Lady Hillmen hope to continue their PVL dominance
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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The Placer High girls basketball team isn’t planning on offering the rest of the Pioneer Valley League any relief. The Hillgals haven’t lost a league game since moving into the PVL two years ago. They’re determined to maintain their high standards even after saying goodbye to one of the most talented classes in school history. “I think we have a good chance to keep the tradition going,” said Kayla Reeves, a junior guard. Placer coach Scott Barry said he believes his team matches up well talent-wise with every team in the PVL, but the Hillgals will definitely miss the leadership of Kasey Riecks, Madison Meade, Lauren Hare, Mandy Wagner and Jessica Bonner. All five were fixtures on the varsity squad for at least three seasons. “That’s one of the things we’re trying to address right now,” the second-year coach said. “We have some leaders. Shelby (Madigan) is a leader. Bailey Bill is a leader, but they’ve never really had to be leaders at this level, so it’s different for them. We’re just working on communication and who’s going to step up and be the voice of the team.” Madigan brings good size at 5-11 and can score from inside or outside. She’s an excellent complement to Reeves — a great shooter herself — on the perimeter. Bill is a ferocious rebounder and runs the floor well. She emerged as a key role player for the Hillgals last year as they went 23-5 and were upset in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. Junior Audrey Furlong will step in at point guard, where Meade excelled for three seasons. Furlong brings great quickness and skills to the position. Fellow junior Kelsey Lardner will also see time at point guard after an excellent volleyball season. Senior Cheryl Andrews brings good size and skills to the frontcourt while junior Bethany Feis could also be a factor on the front line. Barry said Madigan and Reeves would be key for an offense that relied heavily on fast break points last year. Reeves is ready for the challenge after watching her brother Kyle star at Placer when she was in junior high. “Definitely my brother’s had the biggest influence on me,” Reeves said. “When he was playing my dad coached and I got to go to their practices. Seeing my brother work out, that pushed me to work harder.” The junior class is accustomed to winning. The junior varsity squad went 12-0 in the PVL last season and brings plenty of confidence to the varsity stage. “Last year we had a really strong bond and the seniors had a really good year last year, so all of us have confidence,” Reeves said. “Varsity is a lot more intense, physical and fast-paced, but it’s a good experience.” Placer has dominated the PVL since moving from the Sierra Foothill League prior to the 2006-07 season. The Hillgals will be thoroughly tested this season as El Dorado, Colfax and Bear River all have teams capable of challenging for the title. “They understand that they could beat every team in league, but they also understand they could lose to every team in the league too,” Barry said. “The league is very balanced this year. Going undefeated is a good goal to have — they have that potential.”