Making it to the Sac-Joaquin Division I playoffs is always a remarkable achievement. But to lose in the first round at Bethel in the final three minutes after battling so hard to finish second in the Sierra Foothill League behind Del Oro by just one game was indeed a tough way to enter the off-season.
This year Nevada Union’s Lady Miner squad is composed of five seniors, six juniors and one sophomore. And, second place just isn‘t good enough for them or their coach.
“We definitely want to win the league title,” said McDaniels. “We want to end the season in Arco.”
Those may seem like pretty lofty expectations, but McDaniels and the Lady Miners know what they’re capable of and they believe they can get there.
NU averaged 52 points per game last season and shot 40 percent from the floor while allowing 47 points per game on their way to a 14-13 overall record and an 8-2 finish in the Sierra Foothill League.
This summer the Lady Miners had ample opportunity to fine-tune their game participating in 60 games, half of which were based through Nevada Union and the other half were Elite AAU games where the Miners comprised the Grass Valley Magic squad.
“We went twenty eight and two in our summer league and only lost five or six of our AAU games. It was definitely a more competitive level of play,” said McDaniels. “Our depth is our greatest strength. We can seriously compete, legitimately 11 players deep, most other teams have only six or seven.”
Lauren Mickel, who led the team in with 155 rebounds and 59 steals last season as a sophomore chose not to return for her junior year.
“She made a decision and we respect that,” McDaniels said.
To fill Mickel’s shoes the Miners will rely on that depth along with experience and leadership from some of their key players such as Olivia Gulsvig, Sammy DeHart and Kaylin Martin, said McDaniels.
“We have to know when to run and when to slow it down. We’ve done a great job so far,” McDaniels said. “Every girl has lots of experience and games under their belt. They don’t get flustered.”
DeHart is the team’s only sophomore and has played multiple positions and has improved the most over the last couple of years.
Junior Erin Selleck is a savvy point guard and amazing passer who will likely be a key contributor to the Lady Miners fast tempo style of play, said McDaniels.
Sydney Porter, also a junior, led the team, averaging 13.1 points per game last season, and was awarded first team All-Sierra Foothill League honors along with Martin, who averaged 8.2 points per game and led the team with 55 assists. Senior Nicole Lierly will also provide a solid backbone for the team. Lierly averaged 10 points per game last season and led the team with 16 blocks and also finished with the second most rebounds and steals, 95 and 40 respectively.
“She is a pure scorer, just wants it everyday,” McDaniels said. “Of all the girls, she creates scoring opportunities more, especially in half-court, one-on-one situations.”
Thus far the Lady Miners have beaten El Dorado soundly and lost a tough, high-scoring game against St. Mary’s of Stockton in the opening round of the Christian Brother’s Tournament.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call (530) 477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org