As a coach, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing his or her athletes realize their potential.
The Dalles girls basketball players Kilee Hoylman and Lauryn Belanger received Intermountain Conference recognition for their standout outputs this season.
Hoylman was named as a first team member, while Belanger earned a second team nod.
For his program to compete against the best players and schools in the state train, TD head coach Brian Stevens said that his team must play AAU ball outside of the season, which none of the athletes he inherited did.
Getting two juniors on the league list, as well having Molly Taylor and Rainie Codding picking up votes, it shows that there is a difference being made.
“This group of girls understood in order to catch up and compete, they would have to work in the offseason,” Stevens said. “They put in 386 total hours of group training during the summer and fall. This allowed them to compete offensively, to be the third-best defensive team in the state, while propelling them to a second-place tie in league to go along with a winning record in both league and in the regular season.”
During league contests, Hoylman led the IMC in points with 17.2 a game and assists 4.6, while adding 5.6 rebounds and 5.2 deflections.
On Jan. 11, Hoylman scored 22 points, grabbed eight steals, and dished off five assists in TD’s 56-23 victory over Crook County.
She also dropped 24 points, four assists and two steals to lead the Riverhawks to a 60-48 win against Ridgeview on Feb. 1.
For the year, 19 games, Hoylman rattled off 17.8 points per game, 5.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 5.5 steals and 4.9 deflections.
“Nobody put more work in the gym than Kilee Hoylman,” Stevens said. “She went from averaging 4.3 points in her sophomore year to leading the IMC with 17.2 points per game as a junior. If her teammates follow her leadership and spend the time in the lab, we can compete for the district title next year.”
With Belanger in the paint as a threat to block or change shots and with her low-post moves opening up the offense, the Riverhawks increased their scoring output from 41.3 points a game to 47.2, while the defense surrendered 38.3 points, a sharp drop from 45.8 last year.
As part of her IMC contributions, Belanger struck for 10 points or more three times, with a high of 17 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two assists.
The 6-foot post notched 10 points and three boards versus Crook County and she went off for 11 points, seven rebounds, two steals and a block in TD’s 54-37 rout of Crook County.
Overall, Belanger tallied 7.8 points, six rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 2.3 deflections in 19 games, but in IMC action, she contributed 9.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 2.6 deflections.
“As a player, it is extremely humbling to know that I have been considered one of the best in the league,” Belanger said. “But, I wasn’t able to get there on my own. My teammates helped me get to where I was, so there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of them when I consider how successful of a player I have become.”
Bad weather and a lack of playable days halted the completion of the 2018-2019 IMC schedule, so RPI became a determining factor in moving Ridgeview to third place and a final state berth, while The Dalles was dropped to fourth place and out of the postseason mix.
TD jumped to 11 wins from seven last year and lost eight games compared to 16, so now there is a level of expectation for the players to meet or surpass down the road.
While the Hawks are losing four seniors, Stevens said that if Hoylman, Belanger, Rainie Codding, Jenna Miller, Hanna Ziegenhagen, Gus Decker, Pearl Guzman, Grace Schatz, Keisha Oregon and Mercy I’aulualo all return, the team will have the opportunity to show the powers that be the mistake that was made last season.
Stevens is looking forward to the summer and the future with this group.
“As I look towards the future, I can’t help but be excited about how much better my team will make me and how we will push each other to our limits in order to succeed, as not only more all-league players in the future, but as a top team in the league.”