Red Oak senior Hannah Vial is averaging 9.5 points per game, third on the team. The Tigers are 3-1, including a 30-point victory over Atlantic and a 20-point win against Council Bluffs St. Albert.
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Q: Your team started the season by battling at Class 4-A No. 2 Council Bluffs Lewis Central, and were within three points midway through the third quarter. Do you think that game gave your team confidence heading into the rest of the season?
A: “Yeah, I think it gave us a lot of confidence. I mean, playing at Lewis Central is never easy but I thought we played really well. You know, we had a week of practice and weren’t able to play much together because of state volleyball so we were pleased with it.”
Q: Going 3-0 since that game, what has been working?
A: “We focused a little more on pushing the ball up the court and a little harder defense. And I think that helped a lot because we’re more of a speed team so we need to be able to push the ball.”
Q: With Red Oak known more as a volleyball school, do you see more growth in the basketball program in recent years?
A: “Definitely. We brought most of our starters back and bench players this year, so I feel like our growth from last year to this year has been great. So I really think we’re going to start another big sport in Red Oak because we have so much coming up and we won’t be losing much except for me and Sierra (Athen)”
Q: Do you feel like you guys are playing under the radar right now?
A: “Just a little bit. Last night was a really important win (a 56-49 victory at Denison Schleswig) so now the radar will be on our back since we’ll probably be competing for second place in the Hawkeye Ten because I know L.C. will probably win.”
Q: Your team is operating with a pretty balanced offense right now and you are averaging fewer points than you did last season. Is that a product of more depth?
A: “I think it’s definitely more depth and the improvement of our players. Most of our starters last year were freshmen and this year they’re a little more comfortable shooting more. So I feel like everyone is shooting well instead of just me and Sierra (Athen) having to be the main scorers.”
Q: Do you see yourself as a senior leader for this team?
A: “I definitely see me and Sierra (Athen) as leaders for sure but Ellie (Rengstorf) and Sophie (Walker) have stepped up a lot this year and been leaders. When I see those girls I don’t think of them as sophomores, I think of all of us just as the main leaders of the team. We’ve all played a lot of basketball together so that helps.”
Q: How would you describe your game to someone who has never seen you play?
A: “You can tell I love basketball a lot because I’m always smiling on the court. I’m aggressive but I get down on myself sometimes when I miss some shots but I have great teammates who help pick me up and it’s just awesome when you have five girls who love the sport.”
Q: What are the goals and expectations for this team?
A: “Our main goal is to keep every team we play below their average shooting percentage because we really want to focus on defense this year. And then the main goal is Des Moines. But one game at a time.”
Q: What are your plans for the future? Will you play a sport in college?
A: “I have a couple places I’ve been thinking of but I wanted to wait until after the season. Buena Vista is one I’m considering. I had a visit there, talked to the coach, and really liked it. But I just want to be done with it so I can relax.”