After coming within a last-second shot of beating Cheyenne-Eagle Butte in the region and finishing 7-13 last season, the Lady Tigers enter this year looking to replace all five starters.
“The jamboree on Saturday was huge for us,” said fourth-year head coach Lindsey Bachman.
“I think it gave them a little confidence. We played four girls who had not had an ounce of varsity basketball.”
When the Lady Tigers open the season on Saturday hosting Britton-Hecla, Jestice Talley (5’3” senior) and TyRel Thompson (5’7” sophomore) will lead the team from the guard positions. They will be joined on the floor by juniors Hayley Borah (5’7”), Hannah Stroeder (5’8”) and Jadin Monsen (5’5”).
Talley scored 100 points last season, Thompson scored 49 and Stroeder scored four before her season was lost to a knee injury.
“It’s no secret most of what we do runs through Jestice and TyRel this year,” said Bachman. “Hannah’s confidence is coming back. She knows the game really well and we know we can count on her.”
With 40 percent of the starting lineup having very little varsity experience, the rest of the team has basically none. Players expecting to see the most playing time early in the season are 5’9” freshman Megan Zahn, 5’8” junior Gennie Krause, 5’5” freshman Regan Stoick, and 5’10” junior foreign exchange student Ella Richling. Also on the varsity are junior Maya Runnels, sophomores Myia Feist and Tatum Busch and freshmen Callie Weisbeck and Emily Wientjes.
Bachman said getting the team ready to play at the pace their opponents try to force is going to be an early-season priority.
“We know teams are going to press us and teams know we’ll want the ball in the hands of Jestice and TyRel,” said Bachman. “They’re our best ball handlers and shooters. The others are going to have to step up. We’re going to have to stay out of foul trouble until we gain some experience and depth.”
Until the team catches up with its lack of varsity experience, the Lady Tigers can count on being a pretty athletic team.
“One thing we do have is speed,” said Bachman. “Hopefully, we can create some headaches for our opponents.”
The girls are making good progress in their daily practice sessions.
“Things are going well in practice,” said Bachman. “The girls are getting better every day. They are learning to listen, adjust and do what we ask of them.”
Braves and Cavs
Tip-off for the season opener on Saturday will be around 4 p.m. as the Lady Tigers set out to avenge the 36-28 loss suffered to the Braves last season in Britton.
In a series that began in 2000, the Lady Tigers are 11-6 all-time against the Braves and have won two of the last three.
The Lady Tigers head to Aberdeen on Tuesday for the road opener against Aberdeen Roncalli. Last December, the Cavaliers ran away with a 52-22 win in Mobridge for their fourth win in the series’ last five games. The Lady Tigers and Cavaliers first played way back during the 1977 season. The Lady Tigers hold a 22-19 edge in the series.