It’s been a rocky start for the Durango High School girls basketball team, but the big goals of a Southwestern League title and second consecutive playoff berth very much are alive.
And getting healthy will be the biggest key. Luck, however, hasn’t been on Durango’s side so far.
The 2-6 Demons played the first seven games this season without Emily McCue, who returned in Saturday’s loss at Piedra Vista. McCue, a senior forward, averaged 11.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest for the Demons a season ago, helping them to a 13-10 record and a postseason berth. She pulled in 11 rebounds to go with nine points in her season debut.
Having the versatile senior in the fold again should boost Durango’s chances the rest of the season heading into its SWL opener Friday against Grand Junction Central at DHS.
In the meantime, the Demons have been boosted offensively by several players, most notably Katie Wiegert. Wiegert has been Durango’s leading scorer, including a 21-point effort against Cañon City and 20 against Kirtland Central.
But, as has been the story of the season, injury has stalled Wiegert’s season, as well. She missed the game against Piedra Vista with an ankle injury and isn’t expected to play this weekend.
Add Augusta Brockus to the list, as well. A concussion is expected to keep the junior guard out this weekend.
So now, where Durango had plenty of guard depth and little post depth, the roles have flipped.
The Demons also have missed Jessi Sigillito, who’s been in France, this season and have lost a handful of other players for multiple games because of concussions, eligibility issues and illnesses.
It’s been so bad at times that head coach Nancy Smith has had to get creative at practice because of the lack of healthy bodies.
“It makes it hard to practice when you have six girls,” Smith said. “I think one day we were around to four girls. You can’t even scrimmage or go through your stuff.”
The one plus is several junior varsity players, including a bevy of freshmen, have received varsity experience, and the healthy among the Demons’ ranks have had to develop their versatility. Smith has been pleased with the work turned in by the freshmen, a list that includes Stephanie Basye, Katrina Chandler, Taylor Edwards and Josie Surmeier. And Kaitlyn Doughty and Jenny Welbourn have filled gaps all over the floor as needed.
“We’ve had five strong starters and one or two subs, depending on who’s been out. They all have different strengths,” Smith said. “But that means our freshmen especially have gotten to work on our defense.
“We’ve had an opportunity for all of our players to be thrown into different situations than what they expected to be in and grow.”
If Durango can get healthy, the SWL title will become more of a possibility. And Smith thinks she’s got the right mix to get it done, health pending, of course.
“I think when healthy, we’re one of the best teams in the conference. ... We have that capability,” she said.