Lady Vikings young but experienced for 2003 season

By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Most male girls basketball coaches have no problem seeing eye-to-eye with their players.
Niles High School varsity basketball coach Jim Arnold, however, is doing a lot of looking up these days.
Arnold's team for the 2003 season boasts two players taller than six feet and three others who are around the six-feet mark.
Even assistant coach Skip Miller, who stands 6-foot-1, sometimes feels short when standing next to the twin towers of junior Melissa Olsen who is 6-foot-2 and freshman Colombe Martin who is 6-foot-3.
Height is not the only thing on the Lady Vikings' side this fall, however. Having lost just two seniors off last year's team that won a sixth straight district title and followed it up with a regional title, this year's squad has seven returning players on its 10-player roster.
Like last season, only two seniors are on this year's roster. Jessica Johnson has been a varsity player since she was a freshman and Ashley Spriggs is now in her third year on the varsity team.
Spriggs suffered a dislocated thumb over the summer and will get her cast removed this week. Her status for the season-opener on Thursday, Aug. 28, is still up in the air.
Two underclassmen returning to the team this year made the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference All-West Division First Team last season. Junior Amber Peters will play point guard this year and sophomore Brandie Radde can play either a guard or forward position. Both will be looked upon to score and play high-pressure defense.
Radde missed the team's preseason conditioning while on a family vacation and will not start the first few games of the season, but Arnold looks for her to start eventually and be a big factor.
Another sophomore who may see a good deal of playing time this season is Sarah Dreher. Played sparingly at forward last season, Dreher has impressed Arnold early this year.
Also vying for playing time are juniors Olsen, Kate Whittaker and Ashley Pingel.
A pair of freshmen are also on the varsity team this season. Martin and Leigh Tyler should help Arnold fill in the gaps.
The Vikings open the season Thursday, Aug. 28, at home against Gull Lake, just one of the many challenging teams on this year's schedule.
Also included on the Niles 2003 schedule are perennial powerhouses Mattawan, Harper Creek, Marshall, Paw Paw and Benton Harbor.

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