PREP BASKETBALL: Lady Miners gear up for final run through SFL gauntlet | TheUnion.com

PREP BASKETBALL: Lady Miners gear up for final run through SFL gauntlet

There are no easy games in the Sierra Foothill League.

Nevada Union girls basketball head coach Jenn Krill knows this. She also knows her team has SFL tested veterans who she feels can compete with anyone on their schedule.

"I think we can beat any team on any given night, but we are going to have to play well," Krill said, now in her third season as the varsity head coach. "There are no easy nights in the SFL."

The Lady Miners are already one game into their 12-game SFL schedule, having lost to a talented Folsom team earlier this week. This will be NU's final season in the SFL as they are slated to join the Foothill Valley League next season.

Heading into league play, the Lady Miners have already proved they are a team to be reckoned with, going 10-4 in non-league and tourney play, and earning quality wins over Placer and McQueen (Nevada).

IMPACT PLAYERS

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Leading the way for the Lady Miners has been a strong group of returners from last year's playoff team that includes Meadow Aragon, Greta Kramer, Mixtli Cortez, Hannah Lewis and Alexa Crabb.

"I feel like we're better than last year. The core of my team is back and I think they are better individually," Krill said. "I think for the most part we are playing better. But, every night we have to show up."

The Lady Miners are especially strong in the front court with post players Aragon and Kramer, who were both All-SFL selections a season ago.

Aragon, a junior, is a talented force down low and leads the team in scoring and rebounding.

"She's that kid where the second she steps on the court, she's going to give you 100 percent every second she's out there," Krill said.

Kramer, a senior, presents problems for opponents with her athleticism and ability to score. She is second to only Aragon on the team in points per game.

While the Lady Miners are strong in the paint, Krill said it will be the team's guard play that will be paramount to NU's success this season.

"When we are playing our best is when our guard aren't turning it over and are knocking down open shots," Krill said.

NU's guards are a scrappy bunch who play solid defense, have strong ball handling skills and can step behind the arc and drain 3-pointers.

"Mixtli and Alexa really open up the court for us," Krill said. "When we only are scoring on the inside, we're pretty easy to defend. But, Mixtli and Alexa can really knock 'em down. They are really streaky shooters and they both have become much better passers. They mean a lot to us on both sides of the court."

Lewis is NU's best defender and has developed her game on the offensive side of the court as well.

"(Lewis) has always been an amazing defender," Krill said. "And, now she's become a great passer and she will knock down the open 3."

Krill added that reserves Molly Burton and Leah Ellis have also proven they can compete at the varsity level and have been assets to the team.

A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY

The Lady Miners have been one of a few NU sports programs that have found championship-caliber success competing in the SFL. The Lady Miners won SFL Championships in 2013 and 2014 and have finished in the top-three in the league standings seven times in the last 11 seasons.

A season ago, the Lady Miners went 12-16 overall and 3-9 in league play to finish in sixth place, but still earned a playoff berth.

This season, Krill said she would like to see her team finish near the top of the standings and earn one of the four automatic playoff bids allotted to the SFL.

"We hope to finish top-four," she said. "That's an automatic bid to the playoffs. We don't want to back door it. We want to control our own destiny, and we would love nothing more to finish top-eight in the section and get a home playoff game. It's going to be a lot of work on our part."

ON THE ROAD

The Lady Miners journey through the SFL gauntlet begins with five of their first six games being on the road. While the early stages of the league season will be littered with road trips to away gyms packed with fans of their opponents, the Lady Miners will finish the season with five of their final six league contests coming on their home floor.

SFL POWER STRUGGLE

For years, the SFL was dominated by Del Oro. Then NU took the crown for two years. But, the reigning SFL champ has been Oak Ridge the last three seasons. While Oak Ridge (7-7) will once again be a playoff contender, Folsom looks to be the class of the league this season. The Bulldogs are 12-2 overall and are led by California commit McKenzie Forbes.

The league as a whole is loaded with Nevada Union (10-5), Woodcreek (11-4), Granite Bay (14-2), Del Oro (11-3) and Rocklin (10-5) all boasting winning records in non-league play this season.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

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