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Hotchkiss has young team, high hopes for 2016 hoops

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Photo by Eric Goold New Hotchkiss girls basketball coach Haillie Taylor chats with players during a preseason practice.

The girls basketball team from Hotchkiss High School has a new coach and a new positive outlook.

Haillie Taylor moved to Hotchkiss in the spring and was hired to coach the Bulldogs after getting the bulk of her coaching experience at the middle school level.

This will be her first year as a varsity coach.

"It's gone really well," Taylor said after a recent practice. "The girls have shown huge improvement and their coach-ability has been really great, so I'm excited."

Last year the Bulldogs floored a very young team and almost all of those players return this year. Hotchkiss won two games last season.

This year the Hotchkiss squad is still young and improving behind its lone senior, Lacey Rodriguez.

"The young girls are pushing themselves and act like seniors and juniors and they're doing really well, so that's been extremely impressive," Taylor said. "And the one senior we have puts a lot of pressure on the young girls behind her to step up and fill the shoes behind her."

Hotchkiss will look to Rodriguez, Carson Collins, Shay Glaser, Kaiya Firor, Yasmine Gaub and Elsie Vazquez to provide leadership on the floor this season.

MaKayla Helm, Andi Todd, Cory Wert, Josie Hiatt, Kaliegh Little and Christina Reza round out the rest of the Hotchkiss girls roster.

"I hope all of them have good years," Taylor said. "We have 19 players and I'm excited for every one of them to continue their basketball careers and get better as the season goes on."

With a young team, the Bulldogs set high goals for the season.

"I have a lot of goals," Taylor said. "I want to at least have them have a successful season and build fundamentally and go have their base be even more than it is now."

As for style of play, Taylor and junior varsity coach Ken Sokol hope to put a balanced squad on the floor.

"I hope we are a defensive team; that's what I love to do," Taylor said. "And Ken loves to push the ball so hopefully we can be a running and defensive team that's strong on both ends."

The Bulldogs have come together as a team and are working with a common positive attitude.

"They get along really well," Taylor said. "They do a really good job of being each other's teammates on the floor."

Wins are important to get this year, but the Bulldogs are also looking forward to the future.

"We take steps day by day but we really want the program to grow," Taylor said. "I hope in the next couple years we can be a competitor and make state. I think even by next year we're going to be pretty tough."

Bulldogs 1-1

Hotchkiss split its pair of season-opening games at the Ridgway Tournament last weekend.

The Bulldogs fell to Norwood 60-30 on Friday but then came back to beat Ridgway 47-23 on Saturday.

Hotchkiss played its first home game of the year last night against Delta. The Bulldogs host Telluride on Thursday at 6 p.m. and host Ridgway on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Photo by Eric Goold Hotchkiss players Carson Collins (left) and Kaliegh Little (right) work on post moves at a recent preseason practice.
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