HALE - A myriad of obstacles confronted the Hale girls basketball team last year, and head coach Ryan Parkinson only had his full complement of players for three out of the Eagles' total of 22 games counting the district tournament.

Between injury and eligibility issues, the Eagles never could put together the same team every game and that led to some predictable problems remaining competitive throughout their full schedule.

Parkinson is hopeful that the Eagles won't struggle with the same problems this year, and he'll be able to keep everyone suited up each night. Depth is always a concern, and if the Eagles can stay away from injuries and eligibility issues that will help.

The Eagles have senior Olivia Rasch coming back and her leadership will be vital for the team to have success, and Parkinson has no doubt that she'll be able to deliver with her scoring and court awareness.

As a four-year varsity starter, Rasch is not only an offensive threat, but also can pick the opponent's pocket on defense and as the Eagles' point guard contributed greatly as a facilitator on offense, and still manage to make her share of baskets.

She was lost to the Eagles half way through the season last year, though, when she suffered an ACL injury and had to have surgery. With her on the shelf, the Eagles struggled to generate a solid offensive threat.

Even so, the Eagles managed a 10-12 record which was the team's best finish in some years. Parkinson felt they could have done much better, if not for the problems expressed above.

Although the Eagles have Rasch returning, they lost a pair of two-year starters to graduation and another starter who transferred to Whittemore-Prescott. Losing three starters is hard to overcome.

Parkinson admits this year is going to be a little bit of a rebuilding season, and that will be made even tougher with only eight girls on the varsity which doesn't give the Eagles a lot of depth.

"Olivia is cleared to play, it's just a matter of getting her back into the flow of basketball," Parkinson said. "It wasn't until early this fall that she could get on a basketball court again. It'll take a little bit of time.

"But, she's a real good basketball player and at some point this year she'll be back to what we've seen from her before, I'm sure. She was averaging about 16 points a game when she got hurt last year."

Parkinson also likes what he's seen from Brooke Pelton, a junior entering her third year on the varsity. She played a lot of minutes for the Eagles in both her freshman and sophomore year.

The only other senior on the team is Carli Lacosse, who saw significant playing time last year and is going to be expected to step up to make up for the graduation and transfer losses.

Second-year junior Kiara Ludwig started quite a few games last year as a sophomore, and is showing quite a bit of improvement in practice and Parkinson expects more out of her this year. Hale also has three girls coming up from the junior varsity team, as well as a freshman.

"We'll be a team finding ourselves early in the year," Parkinson said. "We have a brutal first three games against three very tough teams to start the season. A trial by fire. We'll find out a little bit about ourselves.

"Our two leading rebounders are gone, but I think Lacosse will help take up part of that. Jasmine Harris from the junior varsity team is a good rebounder, and I expect her to come in and help.

"Brooke Pelton has been one of our better rebounders each of her first two years, so I expect her to improve in that area. We're not a big team. We're going to have to work for rebounds. It's going to be a team thing to rebound the ball."

Parkinson hopes that the Eagles can push the ball up the floor with Racsh capable of controlling that kind of game, but with a limited bench he doesn't know if Hale will be the kind of team to create chaos on the floor all 32 minutes.

The coach says the Eagles won't walk the ball up the floor and set the offense up all the time, though. He doesn't believe that is going to be their strength. He expects them to continue to push the ball.

"We are going to have to put pressure on the opponent's defense," Parkinson said. "We know what it takes to be competitive. Statistically speaking, we lost a lot to graduation. But, I think we have some girls that can pick that end up.

"It'll be interesting to see who steps up when we start playing games."

Parkinson wants to have a team that can play multiple defenses. He adds, they have to be solid in man-to-man defense, but will need to be play different defenses that fit the strengths of the group that's on the floor at the time.

Hale figures to be in the upper mix of the middle part of the North Star Conference.