The girls basketball team from Rocky Mountain High School took on three teams this past week. Coach Ryan Boettcher was pleased with their progress, which is moving along according to the plan he made earlier in the season, which was for the girls to get as much time on the court against non-conference teams as they can, in order to hone their skills and synchronize their efforts before their first conference game.
The first was game was played in Montana on Dec. 8 at Bridger High School. The girls wasted no time taking down the Lady Scouts with a final score of 53-40.
“They had some decent-sized post players and their high scorer for the game was a freshman,” said Boettcher. “They also had a couple of young, but good, guards. They play a different style and it was good for us to experience that. It made us adjust and use a different style of defense that we might have to use again when we play someone else. So definitely it was a good learning experience.”
Top scorers in the game were Mandee Leonhardt and Shauna Loman with 12 points each. Brianna Hocker scored 10, Hannah Winland 6. Hannah Parker and Rachael Allred scored 5 each. Rachel Rapp scored two points, Isabel Gurrola 1. Kallee Jo Wilson sat out the game.
“We felt a little bit smaller without Kallee in the game during the first half. We had to work hard against their three post players and their guards, but we were able to limit their second chance opportunities,” explained Boettcher. “So the first half was kind of a feeling out process, where we worked out who was going to be our stoppers on defense and who was going to guard. Since we couldn’t center our offense around her (Wilson) we had to readjust our positions a bit, but we did and we were successful.”
Boettcher felt Leonhardt, Loman and Hocker did a good job picking up the scoring in absence of Wilson, who is usually a high-scoring player for the team.
“Once we settled in, we figured out how to work against their tight man defense,” said Boettcher. “The girls did a good job and it was a good night, because the style of play will benefit us in the long run.”
Although Bridger was able to land a few buckets in the end, the Rocky girls were able to prevail.
Scoring by quarter for Rocky was 12, 15, 11 and 15. For Bridger it was 8, 15, 6 and 11.
“The big thing we learned in this game was to trust our offense a little bit,” said Boettcher. “The girls got a little impatient at times, but by the end of the game we were finally able to run some of our offense and get some really good shots.”
The girls took on the tough team from Tongue River on Friday in Dayton and fell to the powerhouse with a final score of 51-21. Wilson was back in the game, but it wasn’t enough to beat the powerful team from Tongue River.
“Tongue River has a good, very well-coached team and they play a certain style of basketball and defend a certain way and are probably the best in the state at defending out of a zone,” said Boettcher. “We just didn’t adapt to it very well, but it was good for us because we’re probably not going to see a better zone than that, and so we need to learn to do a better job adapting to it.”
Top scorers were Hocker, 6, Allred, 6 and Wilson, 5. Leonhardt and Loman brought in 2 points each.
“It’s called learning. Sometimes you’ve got to fail before you succeed,” said Boettcher. “We have them again on our schedule later in the season and hopefully we’ll do better next time.”
Scores by quarter for Rocky were 3, 9, 2 and 7. For Tongue River it was 9, 11, 16 and 15.
On Saturday, the girls took on Wind River at home, winning the fairly close game 49-41. Wilson was on her game scoring 17 points. Leonhardt added 9, Hocker 8, Loman 7, Allred 4, Rapp and Gurrola, 2 each.
“ Wind River is a different style team with a lot of hands on play,” said Boettcher. “They like to press you and zone you and man you.”
Boettcher felt the opposing coach was “switching it up” in an effort to figure out what was going to work against his girls.
“They are very aggressive and try to go for a lot of turnovers,” said Boettcher. “We knew that going in and we’re going to play another team that plays that way later on, so again, it was a good learning experience for us to learn to play through that style, where you get bumped around quite a bit.”
Boettcher thought it was a good game for the girls and a challenging win for the girls.
Scores by quarter for Rocky were 13, 15, 8 and 11. For Wind River, the quarterly scores were 15, 15, 13 and 8.
“Our girls showed some good leadership this week,” said Boettcher. “It was good to see them come back after a frustrating experience on Friday to win on Saturday. It’s tough to be on the road that long, and they kept a good attitude the whole time.”
Although Boettcher likes to get the girls in shape through a lot of early season practice and games, he stated that it’s “a careful balance to not wear them out in the early season.”
“I thought we did a good job with our shot selection on Saturday. On Saturday, they seemed to be picking up on what we really need to be doing,” he said. “I liked the unselfish play toward the end of the game, where we are looking for one another and looking for the best shot, not just their own shot.”
The girls will face Thermopolis tonight (Thursday) on their home court with game times at 4 and 5:30 p.m. This will be their first conference game of the season.
“Thermopolis has a really good, dynamic scorer on their team, who has been averaging about 23 points since the beginning of the season,” said Boettcher. “We had some experience this past week defending against girls like that who are aggressive about getting the ball in the basket, so that will help us out in this game, too.”
The team will play an intra-district game against Burlington on Saturday in Burlington. Game times are 1 and 2:30 p.m.
Although a 1A team, according to Boettcher, Burlington beats a lot of the 2A teams they play and should provide a good challenging game for the Rocky girls.
By Patti Carpenter