ELFRIDA — Valley Union’s girls basketball team has become somewhat of a steady participant in the 1A state playoffs.

Last season, despite a talented group of seniors, the Blue Devils went 6-6 overall, 4-3 in 1A South Region, and found themselves on the outside looking at an 8-11 team from Duncan that took the final tournament spot, ending a three-year run at the state tournament.

Bill Hahn and Angel “Dusty” Vasquez return for another season of coaching the girls. Hahn is in his ninth year; Vasquez begins his fourth. Both are alumni of VUHS.

Just four returners are back.

“Our lone returning senior is Breana Enriquez, who is a guard,” Hahn said. “Also returning are sophomores Breiah Two Moons, Kali Prudler and Lauren Cabral. Both Two Moons and Prudler are guards who started and saw lots of playing time last season. Lauren Cabral will be at forward this year.

“Like last year, we have some very talented incoming freshmen who we expect to contribute right away. We have freshman guard Lexi Boss, freshman center Karime Esquer and newcomer sophomore forward Arianna Bernal. Our other new girl, Violet Morin, a junior, will play forward and center. Her size and strength will be a huge asset to the team right away.”

According to the coaches this team will definitely have speed.

“We feel that that will help our offense with our quick guards this year,” Vasquez said.

Participation numbers continue to decrease, however, leaving the coaches concerned about depth. One player they were counting on recently transferred to another school.

“Every year, it seems like we get less and less girls coming out,” Hahn said. “So for us, that means less players coming off the bench. Losing Victoria Armijo, Lizet Sonke and Amanda Hageman will be difficult. Victoria was one of the tallest in the conference. Amanda always gave 100% while on the court. We have never seen anyone play with as much heart as Lizet Sonke, those are some big shoes to fill. But just after two days of practice, we can see that our team is ready for the challenge. Everyone is willing to step up. We are very excited to see what this team will do. Our girls will have to be in great shape this year.”

Looking at the 1A South, Hahn and Vasquez believe that if they play fast and hard they can hang with any team in the region.

“The challenge will be keeping everyone healthy and hungry. We ended up starting a week late due to the girls making it to volleyball state, but they came out eager and aggressive on the first day of practice, so we are definitely excited about that. With COVID, we are hoping to keep all players healthy this year. We were able to play all games last year with no issues, so hopefully we can repeat that.”

Valley Union kicks off its season Nov. 23 at San Manuel before playing Tombstone in its home opener Dec. 2 and Benson a week later on Dec. 7.

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