Oakley High School
Conference: 1AD1 Snake River Conference
Classification: 1A D1
Head Coach: Matt Payton
Years as Head Coach: 3rd season
Previous Experience: Oakley High School Boys JV Head Coach
Record Last Year: 11-9
State Titles: 1930
Written by: Sven Alskog
Third year Head Coach Matt Payton leads his Oakley Hornets into new territory this season as they look to transition down from 2A to the 1AD1 classification this season.
His squad experienced plenty of success last year in the higher ranks, meaning the expectations will only grow now.
Plenty of talent has exited the program due to graduation, although on the other side of things the influx of new ball-handlers should help to mitigate the impact.
Talia Elquist and Rhendi Payton will step into the fire this season as the key newcomers, with both looking to take on rather large roles.
While the new talent should help to keep the Hornets competitive in the majority of their games, those that they do return will be asked to take on large leadership roles.
Haley Critchfield should be the unquestioned leader on and off the court with her experience at the varsity level.
Other returners with Critchfield are Abbey Jones and Jayci Hawker.
The hope for Payton is that his returners will mesh well with the incoming players when it comes time to take the floor this winter. Running an offense that is primarily based on execution, plenty of time this offseason was spent trying to make sure the players would all be on the same page come November. It might take a while to fully see the impact of the new talent, although the expectation is that it will make the difference between a successful year and a rebuilding season.
So far according to Payton the chemistry between the girls has been a strong suit, with the experience that does remain playing a key part in that.
Those players might have to carry the team in the early season as the new players get their feet wet during the first few games. Playing three of their first four at home should help with the transition.
The Hornets went 11-9 last season, including a 7-4 mark against 1A competition. Oakely split the season series between Valley, the team which will join them from 2A in the 1AD1 Snake River Conference.
Optimism surrounds the new season, with the expectation to see even more improvement from a team that rebounded well from a winless season to win those 11 games last year.
The strong work ethic and good team chemistry being developed should help the squad to reach its goals.