BOARDMAN - Last year the Riverside Pirates girls proved to the Greater Oregon League that they can play with anyone in the conference.
This year the Pirates look to challenge the league for one of the league's three playoff spots.
"Our league will again be the toughest in the state, but we showed tremendous improvement last year," said third-year head coach Adam Eldridge.
The Pirates retain four starters from last year's (9-13, 5-9 GOL) that placed fifth in the conference.
Senior guard Alysun Burns will start for the third year and she's a shooter with dribble penetration ability. Seniors Melany Hancock, Heather Rogelstad and Stephanie Turner will provide the Pirates witha solid starting core.
"These four seniors will be very good defensively and each bring a lot of varsity experience to the team," said Eldridge.
Junior guard Julie Gordanier was a letter winner for the Pirates last year and Eldridge said she is "super quick." Juniors Esmerelda Leon and Chelsea Mason along with sophomore Jessica Burns are knew to the team as they played junior varsity last season.
"Esmerelda is very tough and Jessica is very smart and I expect her to give us a spark at times," said Eldridge.
The Pirates will struggle with height, but Eldridge explained team defense will be the strength of the Pirate squad.
"We should be able to put pressure on people defensively and should create a lot of turnovers and fast-break opportunities," said Eldridge.
The Greater Oregon League will be tough with several teams possessing players that have agreed to terms with Division I schools.
"The league returns almost everyone, but we have a very good shot at making the playoffs," said Eldridge.