Over the next few weeks, SBLive Arkansas will break down every 6A boys and girls basketball team in the state entering the 2020-21 season. Here’s our look at the Fayetteville Bulldogs girls.
Vic Rimmer, 10th season
2019-20 AT A GLANCE
Overall record: 23-5
Conference record: 12-2 (second place in 6A West)
ALL-STATE PLAYERS DEPARTED
G Sasha Goforth
G Coriah Beck
PLAYERS TO WATCH
G Claudia Bridges, sr., 5-4
Bridges is a scoring point guard with an excellent handle. In Fayetteville’s first two games of the season, the North Alabama signee scored 21 and 22 points, respectively. “She has terrific vision, passes the ball really well and sees things a lot of kids can’t see,” Rimmer said. “She shoots it really well from range and has developed a good mid-range jumper.”
G Caroline Lyles, jr., 5-11
Lyles started every game as a sophomore and was a role player on a team with two Division I guards in Sasha Goforth and Coriah Beck. Rimmer expects Lyles, who holds more than 20 Division I scholarship offers, to shoulder a bigger load on offense this winter when she returns from an injury in late December or early January. “For a guard, she rebounds the ball great,” Rimmer said. “She has really good range on the three-ball and is just a big-bodied kid with long arms and is strong.”
G Ariana Saitta, sr., 5-7
A three-year starter, Saitta is the textbook definition of a do-everything guard. “She is a terrific stat stuffer,” Rimmer said. “She is great defensively, takes charges, gets a lot of assists, a lot of steals. She doesn’t score a lot of points, but that’s because she’s a very unselfish player.”
While the Bulldogs still possess a talent-rich roster, the losses of all-state selections Sasha Goforth and Coriah Beck cannot be overstated. Goforth, a five-star recruit and the No. 21 overall player for the Class of 2020 in ESPN’s rankings, is now at Oregon State. Beck, a four-star guard, signed with Memphis.
“Those two are very high-level players and they have left a legacy at Fayetteville High School that will be difficult to replicate,” Rimmer said. “But I do like our group.”
It all starts with Bridges, a returning all-state selection who is poised for a prolific senior season. Saitta brings invaluable experience to the team, and Lyles could be the Bulldogs’ next superstar.
“We like to play really fast and shoot the basketball quickly, speed the game up,” Rimmer said. “We have six or eight guards that we really like, so that’s probably what you’re going to see from us.”
Fayetteville starts five guards, which can create problems with interior defense and rebounding. The 5-foot-11 Lyles was often used as a post defender last season because of her size.
“We are not very big,” Rimmer said. “Caroline played inside out of necessity last year, and she can be very physical. … We do have a couple kids on the bench that we are trying to develop. They are unproven, but if need be, we can go with a (bigger) lineup.”
Despite losing two Division I players, Fayetteville has enough pieces back to remain a contender this winter. The 6A West is tough at the top, and the Bulldogs should be right in the mix.
“The goal every year is to win a conference championship — that is the expectation we have for ourselves,” Rimmer said. “That is a tall task because we feel like Bentonville has a tremendous team back and Har-Ber is a tremendous team, but that’s our goal.”
“This year with COVID, it’s crazy how lineups can change in a day. We played our first two games without four of our top eight. I’ve got every set play drawn up on a piece of paper in my back pocket, and I keep it that way because at some point kids will be on the floor out of position and we need to draw up a bucket. That’s the type of season it is.” — Vic Rimmer