DCG girls basketball ready to take the state tournament jump in 2020
At the start of every basketball season, excitement is in full force for every team. For the Dallas Center-Grimes girls basketball team, they're in that same boat for another new season.
Part of that excitement for fifth-year head coach Adam Jones and the Mustangs comes from the potential to continue the success from recent seasons. DCG hasn't suffered a losing season in over 15 years, including 11 seasons with at least 15 wins or more. While DCG looks to continue that trend, there's one aspect in particular that might provide a bigger push in 2020.
Indeed the Mustang girls have enjoyed a lot of success as of late, capturing a regional title berth in four out of the past five seasons. The only downside is that DCG has come up short in all four outings, falling one win shy of their first state tournament appearance since 2014.
"It's been something we've talked about a little bit, you get to that point and you want to make the state tournament," began Jones. "You've also got to look at why it's not happening. We've chosen the theme this year of being greater in every aspect. We've been talking about how to do the little things just a little bit better because we've been knocking on the door, we just haven't gotten there yet."
Even at the onset of the new season, there's a lot of pieces to the puzzle that has the potential of sending DCG back to a regional title game. The Mustangs may have lost out on a big-time threat in Jordan Cunningham, who paced the team in points (407), blocks (31), assists (64) and rebounds (137), but they retain quite a lot of talent as well.
"We bring back a lot of girls with varsity playing experience under their belts which is always big," Jones said. "Experience is a big part of what has helped us be so successful over the years and it will play a big role this season as well."
That returning experience includes collegiate-bound star Julia Reis, who was second on the team in scoring last year (255). Reis marks the second consecutive Mustang to make a basketball commitment but more importantly, is one of six returners with 20 or more games played in 2019.
"We have a lot of younger girls who can step up and be big contributors to this team," said senior Kylie Merical. "This team has a lot of depth which is one of our biggest strengths."
DCG is a team that won't be shy to shoot the ball, returning six players with at least 70 field goal attempts from last season. DCG brings back nearly 60 percent of their 2019 scoring total not to mention 65 percent of their rebounding total. That's without taking into consideration several transfers including from Dowling Catholic and Woodward-Granger.
"No matter what happens, we have a ton of players who just compete every day and take things day by day," said Reis. "Depth is really big especially this year, almost comforting knowing that if you go down, you'll have someone who can step up and fill that role pretty well."
In total there are 35 players in the girls basketball program at DCG which includes 14 on the varsity roster. That very depth that will be a big key in a potential regional title appearance includes those beyond the senior stars like Merical, Lexi Protzman and Reis. It also includes juniors Ella Lampe and Avery Korsching who combined for 85 steals in 2019 and Emma Miner who ranked 10th among Class 4A freshmen in three-point shots made (14).
"This group is pretty fundamentally sound and that allows you to do things for sure," said Jones. "I still think that the more we focus on fundamentals the better we become."
Another big motivating factor for the Mustangs could simply be the sheer opportunity to play. COVID-19 has altered quite a bit in 2020 but the chance to play has not been one of them.
"We're extremely excited just to be at practice because we know there are some schools in the area who have lost that opportunity," said Jones. "We may work a little bit harder because we know we get to so we just take things one day at a time. If we take that approach, things will be better."
Now, the Mustangs will look to begin another push towards a state tournament run as they get set to take on Ballard. DCG is 8-6 in season-opening wins since 2006. With the recent pre-season rankings released by the IGHSAU, the 12th ranked Mustangs will battle the third-ranked Bombers for the 23rd time since the 2006 campaign. DCG will look to break the eight-game losing skid against the Bombers and it will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20 Meadows Gym in Grimes.