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Life Without Palmer, Derby Begins

November 28, 2018

The Valley Lumberjills will need to replace the departed Sophie Palmer and former head coach Jeff Derby if they want to get back to their winning ways in 2018-2019.

Palmer graduated and holds just about every statistic and record known, while newly married Derby needed time with his new bride and family. Also lost to graduation was Tessa Dudgeon, who was a strong rebounder and a defensive stopper.

However, things went from bad to worse, as the 'Jills outstanding sophomore McKinlee Yoho had knee surgery over the summer and won't be available until February.

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Pictured is the 2018-19 Valley High School Girls’ Basketball Team

Meanwhile, Valley hired the former Hundred girls basketball assistant coach Casey Sapp and Cody Jenkins to replace Derby and former assistant coach Logan Smith, respectively.

"Coach Jenkins and I see a lot of upside to this team," said Sapp. "The girls are all working very hard, and we look forward to getting the season started."

The Lumberjills still have some wood in the fire as senior letter-winners Jenna Dallison (6-0) and Caitlyn Underwood (5-7) as well as Emma Ueltschy are back on board to start the season.

Underwood is a very good athlete who can do a lot of things well. She is an exceptional outside shooter as well as a good defender and rebounder and looks to be the team's leader. Dallison is a very good rebounder and can put the ball into the hoop. She looks to be the go-to-girl if needed. Ueltschy sat out her junior year. She is a pure outside shooting threat.

The Lumberjills have two other seniors on their roster in Kendall Williams (5-2) and Summer Goodrich (5-2) to give leadership.

Sapp and Jenkins also have a few girls to step up and give some stability on the floor in juniors Kaeleen Utt (5-3), Jamey West (5-3) and Brittany Kennedy (5-11). Utt is a pure outside shooting threat, while West will handle the point, left vacant by Palmer.

West started most of last season and knows the system by heart and is also the team's best defender. Kennedy and Dallison look to be the team leaders on the glass, while Kennedy looks to beef up the defense and add another girl that can score.

Sophomore Rachel Bates (5-6) can do a lot of things well and will help West at guard. Bates is also a solid scorer who can score anywhere, while shuffling her feet and making steals. Americus Ueltschy (5-10) is another sophomore who will help the transition of losing Palmer and Dudgeon a little easier. Americus looks to challenge for a lot of playing time and is a player to watch out for.

Sapp has four freshmen who can bring up if needed in Reagan Dallison (5-8), Kim Soles (5-1), Shyanne Moore (5-9) and Madison Barnette (5-6). The four freshmen look to play mainly junior varsity ball, but Reagan looks like she can challenge some girls for varsity time too.

The loss of Yoho will hurt, but when she is let loose from the doctor, she will start right away and will make a good team a lot better.

This sports writer looks for Valley to struggle early on, but if Underwood gets back to being the player she once was before an injury slowed her down late in the season, and if Jenna can stay out of foul trouble, the team will be fine. Bates looks to be the best player on the floor next to Caitlyn and Jenna. If Emma can get her groove back, like it once was her sophomore season, it will open the paint for Jenna and Kennedy.

Prediction: 10-13



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