Girls Basketball Preview: Havasu looks to get back to winning ways with new team and coach

November 22, 2018

Coming off of a season last year that saw the Lake Havasu girls basketball team only win two games, the Knights are looking to rebound this year in the midst of a rebuild and under a new coach, Karen Rockwell.

Rockwell isn’t new to Havasu, but she is new to the Knights program and was named the girls new head coach at the end of the summer. Rockwell is coming to the Knights from Winslow, Arizona where she was born-and-raised, played high school basketball and was an assistant varsity coach for eight years.

As a player, she is a two-time state champion and as a coach has three state championships under her belt. So it’s safe to say she has the qualifications to turn the Knights into winners again and most importantly, she’s happy to do so.

“It’s slow but it’s a learning process for us all,” Rockwell said. “(The Knights) have had three different coaches in the last four years. So I am here to stay and create a program that will eventually have a winning season. We’re going to start slow and build on it.”

Havasu plans to build upon its strengths, which is its post play according to Rockwell. The Knights ability to drive to the basket and make close jump shots will be the main source of points Havasu scores to start the season. The guard position is where the Knights will want to improve after graduating McKenah Kovach, Airen Carpentieri and Dolcee Bogino who were the main players in those roles.

“I think last year we had a lot of good guards that helped us out a lot,” senior Kaitlyn Maloney said. “This year we don’t have as many good guards and ball handlers. We only have two or three compared to the four or five we had last year. So that will be tough but I think as we move forward we will find people to fill those roles.”

Out of the 13 players filling out the roster for Havasu this year, five are returning varsity players. Captains Sierra Bekkedahl and Yazmeen Washington are expected to be the leaders on the court and also Maloney, Kilee Greene and Mary Jack as the other returning players from last year.

Havasu got the season started on Tuesday against Kingman Academy in which it lost to the Tigers 44-32 after sweeping them last year for the Knights only two wins of the season.

The Knights will be riding a 15 game losing streak they will look to break when they continue the season on Monday in Mohave Valley to take on River Valley at 7 p.m.

From there Havasu will work its way through the schools on the Colorado River before kicking off newly joined 4A conference West Valley regional play on Dec. 20 when they host Peoria.

Joining Havasu in the new West Valley region is Glendale Deer Valley and Goodyear Desert Edge from the 5A Desert West region last year. The Knights new regional opponents, Peoria and Glendale Cactus are relatively unknown to Havasu this year.

However, they are more than excited to be in a new conference.

“Going down a conference is going to be good for us,” Washington said. “It’s going to be different but we’re excited for different teams to compete with.”

With a new coach, new roster and new opponents Havasu is aiming to make losing a thing of the past. It’s entirely possible and everybody knows it.

“As a team, we are learning each step,” Jack said. “We will end up getting better as the season moves along. It’s all new people so we are trying to learn how everyone works together and we will end up taking control.”

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