By Jay Davis
After improving from one win two seasons ago to 10 wins last year, the Lady Tigers look to take another step forward this season.
“The girls have been working hard,” said second-year coach Lindsey Kramer.
Although the graduation of Aundrea Kramer and Chelsy Hoffman cost the Lady Tigers nearly 40 percent of their scoring from last year, not to mention rebounding and leadership, the team is deep with 10 players returning who scored varsity points last season.
That has created an in-team competition for starting jobs and minutes off the bench.
“They need to push each other hard,” said Kramer. “That’s what we’re working on the next few days.”
Seniors Alexa Schaefbauer and Kaitlin Good Shield along with junior Naomi Stroeder return to the starting lineup. Juniors Grace Wollman and Sam Good Shield will join the trio on the first five when the Lady Tigers tip off the season-opener on Thursday against Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, but seniors Taylor Brekke and ReAnne Kohlus and juniors Lauren Henderson and Madison Rau will also see plenty of action. Looking deeper still, juniors Kallie Pearman, Autumn Schlomer and Anna Carmody and sophomore Jestice Talley are working hard to claim their minutes on the court, too.
“One thing I’m very excited about is that we can easily go 10 deep on any given night,” said Kramer. “Only five start, but what’s important is who is going to on the court at the end of the game.”
The Lady Tigers averaged 47 points per game last season. To get there, players are going to have to step up on the offensive end. Kaitlin Good Shield leads the incoming team, having scored 224 points last season. Schaefbauer scored 157, but no other returnee scored more than Wollman’s 78.
“The biggest thing we’re missing right now is the ability to catch and shoot,” said Kramer. “I think we’re going to see a lot of zone early on.”
The Lady Tigers will find out quickly which players are ready to lead the team as they host Cheyenne-Eagle Butte on Thursday, Britton-Hecla on Saturday and travel to Aberdeen to face Aberdeen Roncalli on Tuesday. Added to that, the Lady Tigers return home to host Timber Lake next Thursday.
“The first week will tell us a lot,” said Kramer. “Four games in seven days is a quick eye-opener.”
Braves times two
The Lady Tigers and the Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Braves are meeting for the 57th time in a series that dates back to 1978. Mobridge-Pollock leads the all-time series 34-22, but the Braves have won the last six games, including three wins last season. The Braves beat the Lady Tigers 47-39 and 53-47 during the regular season before eking out a 42-40 win in the Region 6A semifinals.
“We came close last year,’ said Kramer. “We know them well and they know us well.”
The Lady Tigers and Britton-Hecla Braves are playing for the 16th time. The Lady Tigers lead 10-5 in a series that began in 2000. The Lady Tigers beat the Braves 31-29 last season in Britton.
In a series that began in 1977, the Lady Tigers hold a 21-18 lead going into their 40th meeting with Aberdeen Roncalli, but after the Lady Tigers had a four-game winning streak from the 2008-09 season to the 2011-12 season, the Cavaliers have won the last three games, including a 49-36 win last December.