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Eads Girls Will Have to Battle Through Early-Season Injuries

By Betsy Barnett

2021-12-01 22:24:15

The good news for the Eads Lady Eagles, eventually at least, is that Eads returns five key players to the basketball court this year—all who have had a great amount of court time already. But the bad news is the reality of a number of injuries to key players.

Eads was 8-6 last year but came on strong at the end of the season qualifying for the regional tournament. They would lose to Merino, 43-24, to end their slightly above average season.

Trey Eder, who is entering his 13th year at the helm for the Eads Lady Eagles, stated, “I am curious to see where this team can be by the end of the season. We are dealing with injuries here early with senior Rhealie Rittgers on minutes restriction, junior Maggie Haase hopefully getting cleared after the break, freshman Kierra Coen is also out with knee injury and looking to come back soon. Then we were devastated with an ACL season ending injury to transfer Junior Lisi Buller on the first day of practice. So early on we could see some growing pains as we try to figure our roles out and gain that experience on the floor. Practice has been very difficult as we have only 8 and sometimes 7 girls that are healthy and able to practice. We will have to have a very short learning curve and figure things out on the fly and look for some of our young and inexperienced girls to step up and take on some challenges that are thrown their way. We will have to lean on our defense to carry us and give us our best chance of winning games.”

Eventually, however, Eads will have five players who will be the anchor of the team. They include Rittgers, a 5’7 guard; Haase, a 5’11 junior center; Sam Courkamp, a 5’5 junior guard; Katie Johnson, a 5’8 sophomore forward; and Madison McDowell, a 5’5 sophomore guard.

Rittgers is in the process of returning from an ACL injury last year that occurred during basketball season. According to Eder, “Rhealie will be on a minutes-restriction to start the season and should be a full go after Christmas Break. She is our leader and has the most experience out on the floor. We are certainly glad she is going to be able to play this year after rehabbing that knee. She’s a fierce competitor and leader and we definitely need her on the floor.”

Haase is still out and has not practiced due to a knee injury suffered during Volleyball. She will hopefully be cleared to get back to playing after the Break. Eder analyzes, “Maggie will be our height on the team and this will be missed early on in the season. She improved greatly last year, and we will be looking for her presence after the break to help us out and add some depth to our team.”

Of Courkamp, Eder says, “Sam is looking to take the next step this year and we are going to count on her to make that jump and be a leader and take this team on her shoulders. She is going to have to carry more of a prominent role for this team and being a junior and being a starter a year ago will help her make that jump.”

Eder says, “Johnson has been looking good in practice and becoming more physical and working on her game. She is going to have to be our primary inside presence this year especially early while we get some girls back from injury. She will be leaned on to take on a big role. She will need to learn quickly and be ready to be dominate on both ends of the floor. She is very coachable and willing to try anything you throw at her. Looking forward to seeing what she can do this year.”

Finally, Madison McDowell is going to have to develop and become a leader on the fly. Eder says, “With Rhealie on a minutes-restriction, Madison is going to be counted on to handle the ball much more and become one of our primary guards. She will need to keep improving her shooting and ball handling and become that primary player and not just a role player.”

The Eagles will also depend on some good talent who are still learning the ropes including juniors Brianna Habinck and Piper Sorter, and freshmen Katherine Trosper and Zoie Kraft.

With all the injuries and time needed to develop the younger players, the Eagles will have to depend on the strength of their defense until they can develop the offensive skills they’ll need to compete. Eder says, “We are young and lacking lots of leadership experience and that can have a huge impact on the floor. But even though you can have an off-night scoring with the ball, a team can always have a great night on defense by just putting out the energy and effort. We’ll keep working on our shooting, passing and dribbling and it should come around as we move through the season.”

The district Eads plays in is usually tough and this year is not exception. Eder lists McClave, Kit Carson and Cheraw as the usual culprits. “McClave is going to be the front runner in the High Plains league in my opinion. They return a lot of talent and experience and made the state tournament last year. Kit Carson is still going to be competitive and have size and that will be tough to deal with for our league and they are experienced with lots of girls that just know how to win. Cheraw is looking to make a jump this year I feel and have some returning players that provide experience and success in VB will help them be more confident.”

Wiley will also be added to the District Tournament this year and they will be another tough team to handle, according to Eder. “They are going to be a good team and looking to prove they can compete in an already traditionally highly competitive district.”

The Lady Eagles will start their 2021-22 campaign at home on Friday, December 3 when they host the Flagler/Hi-Plains group starting at 4:00 PM.


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