QUEEN CREEK, Ariz.–The Queen Creek girls basketball team is focusing on defense as it moves into a new conference and region this season.
Like the rest of the Queen Creek teams, girls basketball is moving up to 6A this year. They are led by second-year head coach Cassie Damyanovich, who hopes the bigger and better competition will help her team grow as players and people.
“The new conference will be a challenge, as competition is expected to rise, but we will continue to go into each game knowing our strengths and devise a game plan to use them uniquely against each opponent,” said Damyanovich.
Last season, the Dogs finished with a record of 18-10 and were the no. 15 seed heading into the state playoffs. They lost in the first round to the eventual state runner-ups, Mesquite.
“Our goals for this season are just to progress from last season,” said Damyanovich. “I strongly believe a team is only as good as their defense, and Coach Pace and I fully intend to make our squad this year a strong defensive unit.”
Both coaches also hope to develop a strong culture of discipline in the program.
This year’s roster is upper-classmen heavy with nine of its 10 players being seniors or juniors. Lone freshman Aubrey Pace is the team’s only newcomer this year. With so many experienced players, Damyanovich feels her whole team is full of players who all have the potential to take a leadership role this season.
“We teach our girls that leaders promote and build other leaders,” said Damyanovich. “After we sat down and genuinely discussed what the role of a leader is on a team, they all became leaders. I cannot express how proud Coach Pace and I are of these girls for not only growing on the court, but as women.”
The Bulldogs have placed a lot of emphasis on defense this season and have a motto of “if you don’t play defense, you don’t play.”
“Our defense is definitely our biggest strength and I am very pleased with it being so early in the season,” said Damyanovich. “That being said, we still have a lot to work on.”
Damyanoviches biggest worry for her team so far are the injuries, but is hopeful they will be healthy by the beginning of the regular season.
The girls open their season with the Lady Black Invitational Tournament this week and will have their first regular season game on Nov. 27 at Hamilton High School. Their home opener will be on Nov. 29 against Tolleson.