Woodward-Granger girls basketball gears up for new season

Sean Cordy, Correspondent
Special to the Chief
Grace Deputy looks for a shot against a couple Pleasantville players on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.

The Hawks were put in a jam last season when the team's top two returning players moved to new schools, leaving the 2020-21 roster with big shoes to fill considering the momentum that was built by an 18-5 record in 2019-20. In comparison, last season's 5-18 record took a couple of steps back. Can the team work its way back to contender status with a year of experience under its belt?

Returning

In her first season as a starter, Grace Deputy was one of the brightest spots to emerge last season, leading the team in points, rebounds and blocks — and ranked in the top five in the latter two stats among the conference. Now a junior with a year of experience, she looks to make an even bigger impact after getting her feet wet. Last season, it took four games before she surpassed eight points in a game. She ended the season averaging 8.8 points and 8.7 rebounds. It's not a stretch to think a double-double average is within reach.

Of course, Deputy isn't alone. Darby Nixon returns at point guard after previously playing more of a supporting role as a shooter the previous two seasons. Taking the change in stride, Nixon led the team with an average of 1.9 assists, 2.9 steals and tied Deputy with 8.8 points per game

Darby Nixon in action during Woodward-Granger's regional opener at home on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021.

Conference

Finishing with a 5-16 overall record, most of Woodward's success came within the WCAC. But a 4-11 conference record only tied for eighth place. That leaves plenty of room for the Hawks to climb the ladder this season if they can take advantage of their experience compared to gaps needing to be filled by their league mates.

In the conference, 17 of the top 50 scorers all graduated and there's a good amount of crossover with 15 of the most efficient scorers. However, there are still a couple of teams that manage to bring back their most effective weapons. Des Moines Christian has four 40 percent or better shooters returning to defend their 2020 title. ACGC brings back two players with 10 points per game. Meanwhile, runner-up Panorama retains the conference's top scorer Payton Beckman, fully capable of taking over games alone as she did in a 35-point performance over Woodward.