The Bear River, Forest Lake Christian and Nevada Union girls basketball teams have impressed in the preseason, all finishing with winning records, but now it’s time for league play.
And with the league schedule comes an elevated level of play as teams face rivals, protect school pride, battle for the playoffs and fight for conference titles.
The Lady Bruins, Lady Falcons and Lady Miners are all set to tip off league play, and here’s a look at what to expect from each of the girls basketball teams in Nevada County.
Bear River Lady Bruins
Current record: 15-1
2011-12 season: 21-10, 7-3 PVL
2011-12 PVL finish: 2nd
Despite graduating their top scorer from last season, Jennifer Meylor (17.9 points per game), the Lady Bruins have fired out of the gates in the 2012-13 season going 15-1 along the way.
Bear River is currently No. 2 in the MaxPreps Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV rankings and No. 16 in the overall section rankings.
This season the Lady Bruins are led by the inside presence of Kaitlyn Reina. The junior post player who missed all of last season with an injury is back and leading the Bear River charge.
Reina leads the team in points with 14.0 per game and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Senior guard Savannah Welz is second on the team in scoring with 9.8 points per game, and senior Cindy Solomon adds 7.7 points per game, including a team-high 26 3-pointers.
Bear River’s Teryn Rath is also a major cog in the Lady Bruin machine with 7.6 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Through 16 games this season, the Lady Bruins are averaging 58.6 points per game while allowing a meager 30.8 points per game.
The Bruins finished behind rival Colfax in the Pioneer Valley League last season and will likely have to contend with the Lady Falcons at the top this year.
Colfax is just 9-7 this season but is No. 8 in MaxPreps Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV rankings.
Bear River’s other rival, Placer (15-2), is off to a hot start and No. 20 in the overall section rankings.
The Lady Bruins and the Hillgals have met up already once this season with Bear River taking home the 58-55 victory in the final of the Coach G Memorial Tournament.
The Pioneer Valley League is shaping up to be one of the more difficult conferences in the section as five of the six teams finished the preseason with winning records.
The Lady Bruins open PVL play at 7 p.m. today when they travel to take on Foothill.
Nevada Union Lady Miners
Current record: 12-3
2011-12 season: 14-13, 8-2 SFL
2011-12 SFL finish: 2nd
Last season, the Lady Miners finished just one game back of grabbing a share of the Sierra Foothill League title.
This year, with an impressive preseason that closed on a nine-game win streak and without a home loss, NU has its eyes on a league championship and more.
“We definitely want to win league, but we’re not stopping there,” NU head coach John McDaniel said.
NU split its two games with longtime reigning SFL champ Del Oro last season, but an uncharacteristic loss to Rocklin saw a spot at the head of the SFL table slip away. Del Oro has won the SFL every year since 2005.
This season the Lady Miners return seven players from last year’s squad, including top scorer Sydney Porter.
The junior guard has the ability to drive to the hoop or pull up and hit a 3-pointer. Porter averages 12.8 points per game to go with 2.4 steals per game. After Porter, the Lady Miners are pretty balanced with six other players averaging at least six points per game.
Senior point guard Kaylin Martin, senior Nicole Lierly, sophomore Sammy DeHart, junior Emma Peterson, junior Erin Selleck and senior Olivia Gulsvig are all capable of having big scoring games.
The Lady Miner defense is fierce this year, being driven by the intense pressure put on by their speedy guards. And even though the Lady Miners lack size in the post, they are anchored by the physical defense of DeHart and senior Sarina Orellana. As a team, Nevada Union is allowing 47.4 points per game while scoring an average of 58.5 points per game.
As the Lady Miners head into league play, they are No. 8 in the MaxPreps Sac-Joaquin Section rankings. Also looming in the top 25 are SFL foes Del Oro (21) and Rocklin (22).
Del Oro (9-6) is off to a slow start after playing a very difficult preseason but is always a threat when senior guard Brianna Ruiz and senior post player Stephanie Geyer are on the floor.
Ruiz led the Lady Golden Eagles last year with 15.1 points per game, and Geyer is leading the offense this season with 15.4 points per game.
Rocklin (12-5) is also looking to make a bid for the league title, opening the preseason with 12 wins. The Thunder are led by senior Lydia Summers with 12.2 points per game and freshman Jordan Purvis with 11.8 points per game.
NU opens its SFL season at 7 p.m. Friday when it travels to Woodcreek (7-7).
Forest Lake Christian Lady Falcons
Current Record: 9-7, 1-1 CVCL
2011-12 season: 9-15, 5-7 CVCL
2011-12 CVCL finish: 4th
The Lady Falcons have already tipped off the Central Valley California League with a win over last year’s CVCL runner-up Sacramento Waldorf and a loss to Woodland Christian.
FLC returned all three of its top scorers from a year ago. Sophomore Lauren Piner is back after a stellar freshman season to lead the Lady Falcon offense. Piner scored 11.1 points per game last season and is once again leading FLC in points scored.
Savvy senior point guard Emily Pearce runs the offense, posing a triple threat for defenses as she can pass, score and rebound. Senior Emily Woodward is coming off a strong junior year and looks to have found her groove on the court giving the Lady Falcons a force to be reckoned with in the paint.
FLC just missed out on the playoffs last season, and if it wants to taste the postseason this year, it will have to fair better than a fourth-place finish in the CVCL.
To make that happen FLC will have to overcome the talented squads from Woodland Christian (13-3, 2-0 CVCL) and Victory Christian (11-3, 1-1 CVCL).
Victory Christian won the CVCL last season, and Woodland Christian looks much improved from a season ago.
The FLC offense is second in the CVCL, scoring an average of 51.4 points per game, while its defense allows 42.4 points per game.
The Lady Falcons continue their quest toward the top of the CVCL at 6:30 p.m. Thursday when they host Cristo Rey (2-6, 0-1 CVCL).
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call (530) 477-4232 or email him at email@example.com.