PERRYDALE — Seniors Telaney Newton and Anna McGill found themselves in an unfamiliar role on Perrydale’s girls basketball team — as leaders.
“I’ve always kind of been the baby on the team,” Newton said. “Anna and I were juniors (last season) with like a group of seniors. This is something new.”
On any team, senior leadership is important. For Perrydale, it may be even more so, as the Pirates field an almost entirely new varsity roster.
After a 75-14 loss to 3A Willamina on Dec. 2, it may be easy to write off Perrydale. McGill and Newton aren’t about to do that.
“Everyone has an opinion on our team this year,” McGill said. “I feel like we should not even hear what they say. We just need to play as hard as we can and prove them wrong.”
Officially the Pirates have four returning varsity players from last year, but only McGill and Newton saw significant playing time. The rest of the team includes three freshmen, two sophomores and two other seniors, all of whom are seeing their first varsity action.
That has forced Perrydale to go back to basics — teaching players the team’s offensive and defensive schemes from the ground up and how to deal with the full-court press.
“I enjoy the challenge of being a leader,” McGill said. “When I was a freshman, I looked up to Brook Barnes. I try to lead by example like she did. I appreciate that I get to step into that spot.”
McGill and Newton were prepared for the growing pains of a young team. Instead of becoming frustrated, they’ve chosen to be positive and keep their eyes on the big picture.
“We knew it was going to be a lot of growing,” Newton said. “I think we’re excited for that challenge.”
The Pirates began league play against Jewell Tuesday after press time after just one game.
The team’s games against Dufur and Southwest Christian were canceled because of weather, but McGill and Newton are confident the girls are growing at a rapid pace.
Perrydale has long been one of the Casco League’s best teams. McGill and Newton aren’t about to let their senior swan song be any different.
“We’ve always been such a competitive program,” Newton said. “I think people look at our team and see how many young girls there are and just assume it’s going to drop off. I don’t think we’re going to let it. We’ll work as hard as we can and keep up the Perrydale tradition.”