Notre Dame Cougars basketball girls’ head coach Erika Pottage had to laugh when asked about how her season has gone so far.
“It depends on which quarter you ask me about it,” she said. “It’s been an up and down season.”
But really, the Cougars are still in the early portion of their season, although it started back in early December.
They played three Central Alberta High School League games and their tournament in December, had a two-week break for the holidays, came back for two more league games and are now off because of exams until Jan. 31, when they face the Raiders at Lindsay Thurber.
“It’s tough to get into any kind of rhythm with the breaks, but everyone does it,” she said.
“It would be nice to switch with volleyball, so we could play in the first three months and not have the breaks.”
The Cougars do have a winning record in league play, not bad considering two of their starters — five-foot-11 point guard Molly Li and five-foot-10 post Megan Schmidt — missed most of the season. Li just returned from an ankle injury while Schmidt was away in December.
“Having them both back helps considerably,” said Pottage. “One thing that’s been hurting us is our lack of finish from the inside . . . we’ve been struggling.”
Having Li and Schmidt back will help that, plus Maddi Quinn is coming off a strong start to the season.
“When Megan and Molly were away it helped Maddi, who had to step up.”
Li, Schmidt and Quinn and six-foot post Emily Elkins are the only players back from last year.
“Overall we’re a younger team with four Grade 12s and three Grade 10s,” explained Pottage. “But if everyone plays to their potential we can have a strong team when they all peak. But so far there’s a big difference between our starters and the next group.”
Of the four veterans, Elkins is the only one in Grade 11. Shooting guard Cori Vanderwoort is the other Grade 12.
Wing Katie Griffiths played briefly with the team last season before leaving to work on her golf game in the United States after Christmas.
Guard Brooke Harty, post Candice Morse and post Amanda Orozco, who is an exchange student from Mexico, are in Grade 10.
Both Harty and Morse have impressed Pottage.
“Both of them started playing in the club program in Grade 7 and you can see the difference between them and some of the others who have not been with the program,” said Pottage. “They’ve already worked on their fundamentals for four or five years.”
Wing players Danae Nielson, Rebecca Bernard and post Amy Anderson are all in Grade 11 and round out the roster.
Pottage will also be missing part of this season as she’s expecting her second child in February.
“But I’m hoping to be back for the end of the season, if it all works out,” she said.
John Groenen will be the interim head coach.