Hoping to ride the momentum of a Rolling Valley Conference regular season title in volleyball, the Ar-We-Va girls will be looking to contend for the league championship on the basketball court this winter.
Four starters and eight letterwinners in all return for an Ar-We-Va team that went 8-7 in RVC play and 10-12 overall a year ago under head coach Dan Kock, who is starting his fifth season on the bench.
Kock will be joined by longtime assistant coach Larry Siebert and volunteer assistant coach Jeremy Smith.
The four starters back are 5-10 senior guard Emilee Danner, 5-10 senior post player Emily Hinners, 5-2 junior guard Leslie Luft and 5-10 sophomore guard Jadeyn Smith.
Danner averaged 20 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.5 steals and 4.0 assists per game a year ago en route to being named to the RVC first team for the second time in her career and a first-team all-state selection in Class 1A by the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association (IPSWA).
Danner, a recent Northwestern College (Orange City) basketball signee, also led the Rockets last winter with 41 three-point baskets and 46 shot blocks.
Hinners averaged 7.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game a year ago.
Smith was second to Danner in scoring last winter with an average of 8.3 points per game. She led the team on the glass, pulling down 7.8 boards per contest.
Smith also collected 30 steals and had 11 shot blocks on the season.
Luft averaged 3.5 points and 1.4 boards per game.
Other veterans back for the Rockets are 5-9 senior post player Maddie Owen, 5-6 sophomore guard Sara Schurke, 5-3 sophomore guard Hannah Kraus and 5-9 sophomore forward/post player Bridget Cameron.
Filling out Ar-We-Va’s roster are 5-7 sophomore forward Maris Cameron and freshmen Jordan Hansen and Maci Ruch.
"We have a great scoring threat in Danner, which should allow us better shots for the rest of the team. We should be able to play both quick and taller lineups interchangeably," Kock remarked.
"The lack of depth is a concern. With a lot of playing time coming from sophomores, we will need patience, good shot selection and avoid unforced turnovers," added the Rocket boss, whose team will open its regular season on Tuesday, November 27, against Boyer Valley at Dunlap.
When looking at the RVC race, Kock feels that CAM will be the favorite with everyone back for the Cougars.
"CAM will be very tough. They return everyone after losing only to Boyer Valley and Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton in the conference," Kock said.
"Our goal is to win the conference title and improve on last year’s overall record. We have a tough nonconference schedule as well," the Rocket boss added.
Nonconference foes this season for the Rockets are Westwood Sloan, Storm Lake St. Mary’s, Madrid, Red Oak and Ridge View.