By James Robinson

Empire Press Correspondent

The Waterville/Mansfield Shockers varsity girls basketball team ended the season with seven wins and 13 losses. Teams often count on the experience of the older players and this year the Shockers team only had one senior.

Head coach Kieth Finkbeiner said, “We should have five seniors within the nine varsity players returning next year. And, with the strength of some of this year’s JV team fighting for varsity spots we will have a strong varsity team. The JVs had 11 wins and only four losses. The JVs had several players that were strong 3-point shooters which will help next year’s varsity team.”

Finkbeiner said he felt that Ari Salcido and Lexi Deishl were the most improved players from the beginning to the end of the season.

When asked about the strengths and where he saw the team’s improvements, Finkbeiner said, “The camaraderie of the girls was constantly improving which led to understanding what it means to not just be a team but to work as a team. Learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses helps each one to know how to succeed as a team. And together they worked on better decision-making and better ball care which all leads to less turnovers. With every turnover, we lose an opportunity to score and the other opponent gets an opportunity to score. That’s not good.”

About next season, Finkbeiner said, “We built some good ball-handling skills and plays that we will continue with next year. We will beef up our defense — putting more pressure on the other teams. This will help us in getting more turnovers. We will also work on our offense under the basket layups and offensive rebounds. And, as always, we will practice on our free throws to improve our percentage of points off those opportunities.”

Finkbeiner added, “The girls worked out in the weight room three days a week and got in practices at every opportunity. This was a good year for gaining experience. The girls played hard and were not intimidated by their opponents. This is one of our greatest strengths.”

Shockers’ varsity boys head coach Heath Jordan praised his team for their hard work in practice and during the games. The Shockers’ varsity boys had five wins and 14 losses. The team will lose three seniors but there are seven juniors coming back which will make for a strong, experienced team.

Jordan said, “Johnny Mullen, a junior, had an excellent season, averaging 14 points per game with nine rebounds per game. Defensively, we were not bad. But, we were fantastic on both offensive and defensive rebounds. We did struggle all year with passing turnovers. We will work on that this next year. Each player needs to recognize when a teammate is open and when he is not. And, Cole Koenig learned a lot about how to add his leadership to the flow of the game and to lessen turnovers.”

Jordan said he is truly looking forward to the 2017-2108 season.

“We have a strong core of varsity players and some good junior varsity players coming up,” he said.

The North Central Washington 2B League North coaches met Feb. 21 in Brewster to vote on Coach of the Year, Player of the Year and players for the All-League teams. For Waterville/Mansfield’s girls, Hannah Hughes was named to the All-League second team. Justine Clements received honorable mention. The Shocker girls team also received the league Sportsmanship Award. For the boys, Johnny Mullen was named to the All-League third team and Tanner Marden received honorable mention.