Cohesive Bobcat girls eye faster pace

Aberdeen’s girls basketball team is filled with experienced players, including a group that has played together for several years, in soccer and softball as well as on the hardwood.

It is a bit shocking, therefore, to realize there are only two seniors on the hoop squad.

First-year head coach Aaron Roiko is hopeful that familarity will breed success and enable the Bobcats to improve on a 6-14 record in 2011-12 that left them shy of a postseason berth.

“They’re cohesive,” Roiko said of his varsity squad. “They know each other on and off the court.”

Aberdeen tips off the season remarkably early, hosting Ingraham of Seattle in a Saturday afternoon non-leaguer. The varsity contest is scheduled for 2 p.m.

The Bobcats return their top two scorers in senior Mo Donovan and junior Emily Fisher, both dangerous shooters from anywhere on the floor.

The graduation of starting post Hannah Tometich, however, leaves them shy on size. Fisher is the tallest of the returnees at 5-foot-11, but has been most effective on the perimeter for much of her prep career.

Roiko, a former Aberdeen boys assistant, said he may operate without a true post. He’ll count on a transition game, a motion offense and perimeter shooting

“We’ll have to overcome our size by getting after it defensively and running the court,” he said. “We’re going to have to play up-tempo.”

In that vein, Aberdeen will likely utilize a man-to-man pressing defense more often than not.

Five-eight junior guard Kiana Dixon is another returning starter. Alexxi Timmons, another junior, is ticketed for a starting berth but will miss the season opener due to a shortage of practices.

Five-five senior Rachael Schermer, 5-6 junior Lily Walsh and 5-10 sophomore Ericka Manwell will also figure into the seven-player rotation.

Junior Tiana Blackburn and sophomores Sam Laird and Grace Utto-Galarneau will swing between the varsity and JV squads.

Although he cautions that no game within the highly competitive Evergreen 2A Conference will be easy, Roiko believes his team’s experience and firepower should translate into a postseason appearance this season.

He considers tall, experienced Chehalis as the odds-on league favorite, with Tumwater also ranking high and exceptional parity among the other league members.

An all-new girls coaching staff will include Robin Ferguson guiding the junior varsity, Ian Connell supervising the C squad and former Bobcat track coach (and boys basketball assistant) Kelly Stewart also helping out.