After some long seasons, the outlook is looking bright for seniors on Redmond High’s girls basketball team.

The Panthers started the 2018-19 season 4-0, with no team coming within 14 points of them, before a 64-60 loss Dec. 14 at No. 4 Hillsboro, a playoff team last season. Though the season is still young, the 4-1 Panthers are ranked No. 7 in Class 5A, 11 spots ahead of the next highest ranked of the other five teams in the Intermountain Conference.

The team’s three four-year varsity seniors have gone a total of 5-31 in league play, including 0-12 as freshmen in 2015-16. Post Ava Kitchin was a first-team all-IMC selection in the 2017-18 season and guard McKaylie Capps was a second-team choice and guard Jordan Fox was honorable mention all-league. Now, the longtime teammates are now seeing team success.

“It’s pretty cool to see where we are from where we started as freshmen,” said McKaylie Capps, the daughter of Panthers coach Angela Capps. “We were pretty inexperienced as freshmen, now we’ve grown together.”

Kitchin, who leads Redmond with 14.5 points and 11 rebounds per game, becomes a poet in describing the team’s evolution.

“It’s been cool to not just see the change but be the change,” she said. “For us three who started as freshmen, to keep it going and keep it growing.”

McKaylie Capps is averaging 12.8 points, while Fox is averaging 8.8 points and 6 rebounds.

While Redmond has gotten off to solid non-league starts the last two seasons, only to have fourth or fifth place finishes in IMC, there is reason this year to believe they can keep the momentum going once league games start Jan. 11. And it’s not just because the Bend schools have moved on to Class 6A.

“I think we just have higher expectations,” Kitchin said. “It’s been a really different feel since the start of the season. “Everybody believes we can, and we believe it.”

Redmond has a goal to finish in the top part of the league, Angela Capps said.

“They’re very capable of doing it, and I think they’ve got the confidence to do it,” she said.

In 2017-18, the Panthers lost three times to Ridgeview, which finished behind only Bend in league play. Against teams joining the IMC this season, Redmond defeated Crook County 51-28 and lost in overtime to Hood River Valley, 52-43.

Capps expects Pendleton and Ridgeview, the two 2018 playoff teams in this year’s IMC, to be strong this season.

“Ridgeview is definitely a team to beat,” she said. “I don’t know much about Pendleton, but they’ve been really strong in the past.”

Capps introduced a new offense that gives the players more freedom on the court, she said. So far, they are adjusting well.

“They’re making good decisions with it,” she said.

Redmond faces two 6A teams this week, playing Thursday at Mountain View before hosting Century Saturday. They play in the Astoria holiday tournament starting Dec. 27.

Angela Capps and her husband have coached her daughter, as well as Fox and Kitchin, since they were in fifth grade. She said it’s been a joy to watch them grow.

“I think it’s been a lot of years of hard work,” she said. “We’ve got a group where things are just clicking.”

Fox and Kitchin are like a second family, Angela Capps said.

“For all the bumps and bruises we’ve taken over the last couple years, it really is nice to see them start off so well and have so much success,” she said.

Angela Capps looks forward to seeing how Redmond plays the rest of the way.

“There’s still a lot of room to grow, but the sky’s the limit with this group,” she said.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com

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