The Yuma High School girls basketball team is starting out where it hopes to finish the 2017-18 season.

In the top spot.

The Indians are ranked No. 1 in the Class 2A preseason poll released Monday on CHSAANow.com. Rival Wray, which beat Yuma in the state semifinals last year, is ranked No. 3, and fellow Lower Platte Activities Association member Haxtun is No. 6.

It is not surprising the Indians are top-ranked considering they return the top six players from last year’s rotation, the same bunch that went 22-4 and finished third at state. The Yuma girls program has been to five consecutive 2A State Tournaments, with one championship, three runner-ups and the third-place finish during that span.

“We should be there, the way we finished last year,” coach Bob Rahm said of being No. 1. “I just hope we can be on the same page and we all want the same goal…If everybody just does their job and play great defense, we should be okay.”

Being the preseason No. 1 puts a target on a team’s collective back, but that should be nothing new for the Indians.

The 2017-18 Yuma High School girls basketball team is pictured above: Front row (l-r) — Kyle Rayl, Sarah Leifheit and Kenedy Roth; middle row (l-r) — Lucy Day, Shelby Blach, Cody Robinson, Reagan Nolin, Lainey Mekelburg and Masiel Tena; back row (l-r) — Lisa Bustillos, Ema Richardson, Chasey Blach, Eva Ruiz, Darina Rascon, and Karina Rascon. Not pictured are Avery Whitehead, Viri Escobar and Michelle Reyes. (Pioneer Photo)

“Everybody is going to be gunning for us, which is good,” Rahm said. “You better be ready to play each game or you’re going to get knocked off that pedestal.”

The Indians open the 2017-18 season this weekend in the Canine Classic at Highland High School in Ault. Their first game is Friday at 4 p.m. against Frontier Academy, a team they rolled in last year’s season opener. Pawnee and Highland play in the other girls game. The losers play for third place Saturday at 10 a.m., while the winners play for first at 1 p.m.

All five starters return from last year’s team — seniors Avery Whitehead, Kenedy Roth and Kyle Rayl, along with juniors Cody Robinson and Chasey Blach. Robinson and Blach both averaged in double figures last season, and Whitehead was not far averaging nearly nine points per game. Blach also averaged 11.3 rebounds per game, and 2.6 blocks. Robinson averaged 6.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.5 steals per game.

Senior Sarah Leifheit, junior Vidi Escobar and sophomore Reagan Nolin, all who saw varsity time last year, will help round out the varsity rotation. (Nolin was the first player off the bench for most of the season.) Rahm said junior Lisa Bustillos and sophomore Lainey Mekelburg also could see a few minutes here and there in varsity games.

“I feel we’re a lot deeper than last year, when basically I played six,” Rahm said. “The way we’re going to play this year, we’re going to need more players.”

Rahm did not want to give away too much, but look for the Indians, full of athleticism and quickness, to push the pace a bit more in 2017-18.

“They’re all understanding of what I want to do; we’ve been together now for 18 months,” said Rahm, who is entering his second season as the girls head coach. “It should be a great season. We have to help each other if we want to go out on top.”

The fun times begin this weekend. The Indians’ first home game is not until December 15, when they host Wray in a nonconference tilt.