With a young but talented roster, Camp Verde High girls basketball heads to California this weekend.
The Cowboys will travel to the Biola University Tournament, a recent Camp Verde tradition.
“We’ve been going to this tournament, gosh, 10, 11 years or something and it’s a nice set up for us,” said Camp Verde head coach Mark Showers. “We get to go play some games and we get to go to the beach, we get to go to Magic Mountain this year, so it’s kind of a basketball team bonding kind of a set up.”
Camp Verde will go to Six Flags, the beach and the mall while in Southern California.
“I think everyone is excited, especially because we get to go to Six Flags,” said sophomore guard Tanna Decker. “It’s fun because we just bond a lot in this tournament and we get to know each other better.”
Junior guard Lupe Orta bonding is crucial to success.
“It’s a good thing to bond because if you don’t bond as a team you can’t play as a team and we bond really well,” Orta said. “So we can play as a team really good and I think bonding’s really an important part.”
The Cowboys will face stiff competition at Biola. Showers said the other schools are usually about three of four times Camp Verde’s size.
The Cowboys’ summer schedule runs through June.
While Arizona high school teams can now practice year round, Showers said the Cowboys haven’t changed their schedule this summer.
“I’m sure there are some that are, especially the ones that kids specialize, because our kids play two and three sports a piece, we can’t afford to practice in the offseason, they’re already playing something and that’s just the way it is in a small school,” said Showers, who is a member of the AIA’s executive board. “I don’t see that the small schools are going to change a whole lot, it’s just that our kids will be able to work with the ones that aren’t playing.”
Camp Verde plays in games in Phoenix and Flagstaff too.
“It’s been going pretty good, you see a lot of improvement going on,” Orta said.
Despite having a team that was half freshmen in 2016-17, Camp Verde went 18-8, made it to the first round proper of the state tournament and finished second in their region.
“It’s something different because we lost a couple good seniors but now we got really good ones and Tanna’s been getting better and better,” Orta said.
While Camp Verde lost one of their first team all-region players in Kayla Hackett, Decker was the other.
She said the summer has gone really well.
“We have a young team but I feel like we’re going to have a good season,” Decker said. “I feel like everyone was pretty excited I think we’re nervous because there’s no seniors but we’re excited.”
Camp Verde does see the return of junior guard Katrina Poelstra though. She moved to Las Vegas last season after playing for Camp Verde as a freshman.
“I feel like the upcoming freshmen are doing really well and then the juniors are doing pretty good,” Decker said.
The summer isn’t just about going to the beach, it gives the Cowboys a chance to get a leg up before November.
“The summer prepares us because, for instance we’re putting in a new man offense, and so we get a chance to run through that in the summer time, that way we’re a little ahead of the game when we start the season in November,” Showers said.