2016-17 basketball preview: Pierce City Girls

Head Coach: Rob Guerin
2015-16 Record: 15-12 – Lost to Purdy in the Class 2, District 12 tournament
Top Players: Belle Golubski (G), Christine Stellwagen (G), Kayla Portillo (G), Ragan Blinzler (G), Kendyl Hayward (C/F), Libbey Strickler (G/F)

Two years ago, Pierce City won their district championship game over Purdy before falling to the eventual state champs Crane in the Class 2 sectional round.

Last year, Purdy got revenge by beating Pierce City in overtime in the district semifinals, leaving Pierce City eager to get back on the court with some experienced players returning to the lineup this year.

Perhaps none are more eager than junior guard Belle Golubski, who missed much of her sophomore campaign but still managed to lead the team with 10.8 points per contest.

“Golubski could be our best player on the floor,” said head coach Rob Guerin. “She continues to work on her ball handling and penetration skills that could make her a threat from anywhere on the floor. She is expected to increase her scoring and rebounding this year as well as being a tough defender.”

The Lady Eagles graduated just one senior from last year’s team in Emilee Sooter, who averaged 9.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 1.6 SPG.

This season, Pierce City will receive contributions from a trio of seniors, including guards Christine Stellwagen (three-year starter) and Kayla Portillo (two-year starter). Coach Guerin describes Stellwagen as the team’s best defender, and he describes Portillo as the team’s best shooter, making a team-best 41.2 percent of her field goals.

They’ll be joined in the backcourt by junior point guard Ragan Blinzler, who led the Lady Eagles with 3.9 dimes and 1.8 steals per game.

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“Blinzler became our sole point guard last season, and developed her skills to exceed at the position,” said Guerin. “She is quick with the ball and is able to penetrate to the basket as well as find the open person for a good shot.”

Look for 5’9” sophomore Kendyl Hayward to make an impact in the paint at the center/forward position. She showed promise last year as a freshman, starting in most of their varsity games and leading the team with 8.7 RPG and 0.5 BPG.

The Pierce City Lady Eagles will look to improve upon their 15-12 record last season as they attempt to reclaim their district title.

“Despite an up and down 2015-16 season, we still improved,” Guerin said, “and the girls continued that growth this summer. We had a short bench last season with only ten total girls. We battled injuries and sickness, playing a few games with only eight. This season we should have plenty of girls that can fill multiple positions, enabling us to fill a competitive roster every night. Along with a strong line-up for games, the girls should be able to make practices very competitive every day. The focus of practice will be to ‘become a better player than you were yesterday.’”