With the two teams in different leagues now, what are the chances that starting the season against Ephrata would have the same feel to it as when the two teams traded treys as members of the CWAC?

Pretty darn good, says Micaiah McCreary.

The head coach of the Quincy Lady Jacks’ basketball team put it simply when asked whether facing the archrivals felt less important now that it’s a nonleague game.

“The Ephrata game is still ‘Wow, it’s the Ephrata game,” said McCreary, whose Lady Jacks faced off against the striped felines from the county seat on Nov. 30. Results weren’t available prior to press time. “Everybody still views it as the rivalry game.”

McCreary is now on her third year as head coach, including a 2020 season that was as far from normal as it could get.

McCreary, who had five practices with her team before the start of the 2020 season, relishes the chance to have a much more normal year in 2021, with a full slate of practices and a larger turnout. More than 40 girls showed up this year and the Lady Jacks will field a varsity, JV and C teams this season, with Johan Farías in charge of the JV squad and LilyBeth Flores at the helm of the C team. McCreary’s husband Jeremy will serve as volunteer assistant, or “waterboy” as he calls himself.

While the frosh gain their first taste of high school hoops, the varsity coach has set goals for her team that demonstrate an improvement but that remain grounded in reality.

“My goal is this year to end up third in league,” she said of the five-team Caribou Trail League. On her first year, the goal was to break through and earn the team’s first league win in years, and they got two, and four wins overall. The second year was the weird COVID-19 year, which finished with the Lady Jacks tallying three wins.

For this year, seven to nine wins is the goal, in a 20-game season, with the aforementioned third place in league, behind powerhouse Cashmere and either Chelan or Omak, McCreary predicted.

“It’s hard, because we only played everybody briefly last year, and every team graduated girls so everybody will have new teams this year.”

The Lady Jacks will start the season with sort of a point-guard-by-committee, as it tries to find a new field marshall for the offense. Gone are veterans Jane Kennedy (lost to graduation) and six-footer Reece Nieuwenhuis (her family moved to Montana), so this youth-laden squad will try to find its new coach-on-the-court as the season rolls on.

“We have three girls who we are basically going to rotate through and see,” McCreary said. “It’s something we struggle with every year, finding our point guard.”

Asked if needing to find a point guard during the season diminished the expectations for the year, McCreary said no. The search for a point guard has more to do with needing a leader on the court than anything else, she said.

With Nieuwenhuis off the roster, Emily Wurl will have to supply the minutes at center for a squad that features only two seniors.

With more than 20 freshmen turning out, you would think that that would suffice when it comes to finding youth, but not this year. Decker McCreary will also suit up in green-and-gold, perhaps preparing for her inevitable debut as a Quincy hoopster in a decade and a half or so.

“She’ll be at the games,” Micaiah said of her first child, born earlier this year.

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