Deer Valley might have a tough time trying to repeat that feat, however. Three leading players have graduated: Emily Allard, who averaged 15 points and nine rebounds; point guard Patrice Saindon, who averaged seven points, 5.5 assists and four steals; and forward Deserie Azlin, who averaged nine points.
On the plus side, junior guard Raven Fox is back and playing better than ever, averaging 17 points in preseason action, and she’s supported by Kayla Alexander (11.5 points) and Imana Samuels (eight points). This year’s team has lots of quickness, but it lacks size and looks more vulnerable than last year’s supersquad.
Last week the Wolverines were knocked out of championship competition in a tournament on their home court, the West Coast Jamboree Platinum Division, by Bishop O’Dowd. The 70-51 win gave the Dragons a 6-2 record this season, following up on last year’s amazing 28-3 run (16-0 in league) and an NCS Division III championship.
Without a dominant inside presence, inconsistent shooting from the field and free throw line and trouble breaking a full-court press, Deer Valley had its hands full with the speedy, running, gunning, full-court pressing Dragons.
The Wolverines led 4-2 after two minutes, but the Dragons tied it up at 8 two minutes and breathed fire on Deer Valley the rest of the night, leading by nine at the end of the first quarter, 10 at the half, and 19 at the end of the third quarter.
Deer Valley committed four turnovers in the first four minutes and was pretty much stymied throughout the game by Bishop O’Dowd’s tough, unrelenting, swarming defense. The one bright spot was Fox, who tossed down 19 points.
Despite the Jamboree setback, the Wolverines should give BVAL competitors a hard time this season, even if they’re not quite the powerhouse of last year. They did just that in the league opener at home Saturday against Liberty, winning 68-45, despite the Lions’ imposing frontcourt of 6-foot-4-inch Corinne Costa and 6-foot-2 Bernadette Fong. Fox was on fire, tallying 29 points followed by Samuels’ 16. Costa scored 23 points while Fong notched 12.
The Wolverines were on the road Tuesday at Heritage, the results of which were not available at press time. And they host Antioch Friday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m.