OVERTON — During the last two years, Nicole Arp has led the Overton Eagles girls basketball team to back-to-back winning seasons, which is something that hasn’t been done in more than 10 years.
Juniors Rachel Ecklund and Haley Fleischman are the Eagles’ top two returning players and are both two-year starters. Ecklund led the Eagles with 13.1 points per game. She added 7.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 2.0 steals per contest.
Fleischman was the Eagles’ second-best offensive threat, finishing with 9.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season.
The Eagles’ last state tournament appearance came in 2005. They have qualified for the state tournament just five times in the program’s history.
The Eagles open the season Thursday at Arapahoe.
“I am hoping we can use our experience for quick starts and end of close games,” Arp said. “We are returning our size, (which) has been a huge advantage for us in the inside. I want to keep a lot of things the same with a strong inside-outside game.
“I believe we have more speed this year and more experience, so I’m hoping to chance our defensive style some and create more on-ball pressure.”
The Eagles will look a lot different this season. Not only will they have a new coach with the departure of Clint Little, but star players Braden Kizer and Morgan Wallace graduated.
Both players averaged slightly more than 20 points per game and were a big part of the Eagles’ 20-4 record last season.
This year likely will be a rebuilding season for the Eagles, as they try to replace most of their offensive production.
Senior forward Morgan Olmstead is the Eagles’ leading returner. He averaged 8.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in 2018-19. He also made some timely 3-pointers, finishing second on the team with 45 made 3s last season.
The Eagles will be led by former assistant coach Seth Ehlers. They begin the season Thursday against Arapahoe.
The Eagles return a state champion this season. Senior Kien Martin, who finished 43-4 last season, won the Class D 285-pound state championship last year.
Cinch Kiger at 126 pounds, Ryan Johnson at 132, David Thompson at 145, Christian Smith at 170, and Dalton Carlson at 220 are the returning letterwinners for the Eagles.
They open the season Friday at the Elwood Invitational.