Just a year ago, Hilmar High’s varsity girls’ basketball team had two freshman starters and really struggled to put up wins in an ultra-competitive Trans Valley League, which resulted in a 2-8 league record.
After the departure of Kinsey Pettigrew, who was the leader for the Yellowjackets for a four-year period, a new era begins with a very interesting looking squad for head coach Don Inman and assistant Ty Pettigrew.
It’s a varsity squad that has four sophomores on the roster and multiple juniors that should see big playing time for the upcoming year.
Although youth is one of the questions for the upcoming year, there is no doubt that the ‘Jackets will progressively improve and should give every team they face a battle, especially since the team is looking a tad bigger in height than recent seasons.
“I am seeing some maturity. Last year we were really young and had a few kids as freshman starting for us,” said Inman. “I like the desire that is there, which I think we can work with. Eventually we have some growing pains and things to work on since we’re relatively young, but I expect us to make some noise.”
Last year’s duo freshman that started, Erin Benning and Hailey Chavez, are among a handful of ‘Jackets who are expected to make a splash for the upcoming year.
“There is a big payoff of having those two up at the varsity level last year because they are already very strong,” said Inman. “I like the makeup at this time.”
Depth might limit the ‘Jackets ability to be as effective, especially the inexperience of their upperclassmen.
Senior Sydney Peterson should provide some height to the team and consistency on defense along with Samantha Perry, Kayley Pettigrew and Kristin Bello.
The other two sophomores aside Benning and Chavez are Arianna Lara and Elizabeth Flores.
“We don’t have a lot of experience at the upper grades either but they have been working hard and have a good attitude so I am hoping we will gel as a team soon,” said Inman. “I do think we have potential with our size, which is a big benefit so it should help us out.”
The one spot that Hilmar is still in hiatus about is at the guard position.
“We had the luxury of having Kinsey [Pettigrew] handle the ball for us for four-years, so now we are looking for somebody to emerge as our go to person,” said Inman. “For now we will roll with everyone, which can be good for us since we can have more than one kid do it for us.”
Look for the Trans Valley League to be a grind and Ripon might possibly be the favorite but don’t forget about Hilmar’s determination and drive in sports because anything can happen on any day.
“The TVL is a dog-fight every year because the teams are all very even and I think any team in our league is capable of beating any team at any night,” Inman added. “It is just about seeing what level each team will compete and replicate with day in and day out.”
Hilmar will host Denair at 7 p.m. Monday.