CEDAR RAPIDS — The freshmen are taking over.
The Cedar Rapids Xavier girls’ varsity basketball team has nine players who had scored at least two points — and almost half of them are freshmen.
“When I first found out I had made varsity it was a really nice feeling because I was able to see that all my hard work paid off,” freshman Aree Beckman said.
Beckman plays shooting guard, and is one of the five freshmen brought up to play on varsity.
“They are a really enthusiastic and lively bunch,” Coach Tom Lilly said. “They bring a freshness and newness with them each day they come. It’s good to have around.”
This is Lilly’s 34th basketball season as head varsity coach.
With all the new players, comes a new dynamic for the team.
“Our team chemistry is the best it’s ever been,” junior Libby Arnold said. “The freshmen bring a lot of energy to our team.”
This is Arnold’s third year on varsity. She also plays shooting guard, and occasionally forward.
Beckman still is adapting to playing in front of the large crowds at the games.
“It’s a lot more pressure to play in front of everyone,” Beckman said. “You have to shut them all out and not let them get to you.”
Junior Caitlynn Daniels leads the team at 14.9 points per game. Emily Jasper, the lone senior on the roster, is next at 11.5 and Beckman and Arnold contribute 9.5 and 9.4 points, respectively.
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The 13th-ranked Saints are 9-7 overall, 5-5 in the Mississippi Division of the Mississippi Valley Conference and play at Liberty (2-13, 0-10) on Friday.