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Gonzaga women’s basketball looks to dazzle fans, impress coaches at annual FanFest event

UPDATED: Fri., Oct. 11, 2019

Gonzaga University head women’s basketball coach Lisa Fortier, right, reviews a stat sheet as assistant coach Stacy Clinesmith, left, coaches up the Blue team during Fan Fest, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga University head women’s basketball coach Lisa Fortier, right, reviews a stat sheet as assistant coach Stacy Clinesmith, left, coaches up the Blue team during Fan Fest, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

The Gonzaga women can’t wait to get back in the game, even if it’s only a controlled scrimmage against the same players they see every day in practice.

Then again, the annual FanFest is much more than that. On Saturday at the McCarthey Athletic Center, the Zags will try to dazzle several thousand fans with their 3-point shooting.

Then they’ll split into teams, and try to impress head coach Lisa Fortier, who will be taking notes.

“It will good to see where we’re at – we haven’t done anything more than go up and down the court since we got back from Europe,” said Fortier, who opened camp on Sept. 30.

“I want to see how we do in game-like situations,” she added.

The European trip gave the Zags four games and an additional 10 practices, but the experience was more about bonding than basketball.

Now it gets real: The Nov. 2 exhibition against Warner Pacific is only three weeks away.

Fortier’s assistants will run the show Saturday while she examines the play.

All of the players are keen to make an impression, some more than others.

The Zags return five players with substantial experience: guards Jessie Loera and Katie Campbell, wing Jill Townsend, and forwards Jenn and LeeAnne Wirth.

All five could start, although Fortier has left that door slightly ajar for someone else.

“I’m just excited to play with this team,” Jenn Wirth said earlier this week. “We’re super unselfish and I like our coachability.

“We have lots of new faces and young players and everyone is just willing to learn and wants to learn.”

Former Post Falls star Melody Kempton saw big minutes last year as a true freshman and hopes for more this year. Guard Louise Forsyth expects to be one of the first players off the bench, and junior forward Gillian Barfield also hopes to see more playing time.

Perhaps the biggest question marks are two players who redshirted last year: guard Kylee Griffen and 6-foot-5 transfer post Anamaria Virjoghe.

Three true freshmen are expected to get a good look this fall: Australian forward Eliza Hollingsworth and the Zags’ second set of twins, guards Kayleigh and Kaylynne Truong.

“I’m very excited,” said Kaylynne Truong, who joined her teammates last week in cheering on the GU men at Kraziness in the Kennel. “I can’t wait for our turn.”

Doors will open at 3 p.m., and fans can mingle with players and coaches for the next half hour.

The event will begin at 4 with an intro video, player and coach introductions, and a message from Fortier.

The action will include a “hot shot” contest, 3-point shooting contest and a four-quarter controlled scrimmage with each quarter lasting 4 minutes.

After the scrimmage, players will be available for autographs in the east lobby.

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