A record of 49-4, two state championships. That’s the legacy the 2012-13 Lovell Lady Bulldogs will work to fulfill as they begin their quest for a three-peat.
Third-year coach Chris Edwards is again assisted by junior varsity coach Dave Scheffler and freshman coach Bruce Morrison, and the trio is currently working with 23 players, six of whom saw action during the 2011-12 campaign. The roster includes seven seniors, two juniors, five sophomores and nine freshmen.
Gone are graduating seniors Alyssa Geiser, Miranda Griffis, Erin Robertson, Jodi Walker and Leanne Winterholler, as well as freshman Hannah McCurley, who moved to another state. All five of the seniors were major contributors and carried much of the scoring punch.
But six players with varsity experience return, including 2011-12 leading scorer Amanda Shumway. With experience returning, practices have been going well, Edwards said.
“We’ve had nine practices so far,” he said. “As coaches we’ve been pleased with the intensity and effort of the practices. The upper classmen are leading the drills, and they’re comfortable and familiar with what we want.
“These girls want to create their own path. Coming off volleyball (state title) and having success has given them confidence in their abilities.”
Edwards said the Lady Bulldogs will have great versatility this season, with the ability to run either a tall or smaller and quicker lineup.
“We have good size this year and will be able to utilize the size we have. We have strong wing players who have size, too.
“Defensively, we will challenge people and pressure guards. We have the mindset to challenge everyone and not sit back and let other teams run their offense with ease.”
If the team has a weakness it is inexperience among the guards after the graduation of starters Geiser and Winterholler, Edwards said.
“The girls are working hard, and all of them want to improve their ball-handling skills and make the proper decisions with the ball,” he said.
The Lady Bulldogs lost four-year starter Geiser to graduation and will be inexperienced at the point guard, though Edwards expressed confidence in the players he has. Likely to start will be sophomore Lauren Hinckley, who Edwards said has good ball-handling skills and a good jump shot, as well as having the attitude of a competitor.
Spelling Hinckley will be quick senior Dominique Allred, who has seen lots of playing time on the junior varsity to get ready for the jump to varsity this season. Chelsey Ellis can also play the point, Edwards said.
Ellis, a senior, gets the nod at the “two” guard. She was a top player off the bench and started when Winterholler was injured for a game or two last season. A valuable contributor to the team’s success last year, Ellis is a good shooter from the outside but is also a quick and athletic player who can “get to the rim,” Edwards noted.
Likely starting on the wing and also seeing time at the “two” guard will be senior Kassidy Hetland, who came off the bench a year ago for the varsity squad and saw a lot of time.
“Kassidy got some good experience,” Edwards said. “She is a girl who was in the gym all summer to work on her shooting and ball-handling. She has a positive attitude and is a good shooter. She understands the system.”
Also starting on the wing will be senior Amanda Shumway, who averaged 10.4 points per game to lead the team and was selected for the Class 2A All-State team.
“Amanda has a competitive attitude and gives the maximum effort all the time,” Edwards said. “She’s a strong girl who can get inside and finish but also has a consistent jump shot from the perimeter. She’s a girl who leads by example.”
Seniors Shyann Wilske and Meryk McArthur will also see time on the wing, Edwards said. Wilske gained confidence with an excellent volleyball campaign and will help the basketball team by taking care of the ball and playing strong defense. McArthur is back out for basketball after running indoor track, and Edwards said he expects her to be a strong defensive stopper with a mindset to play pressure defense and frustrate ball-handlers.
Working inside at the “four” will be sophomore Emilee Reasch (5-11), who Edwards called a strong, athletic girl with quick feet that will help her out-maneuver other post players.
“She has good length, which allows her to be a strong rebounder, and she’ll get a lot of second-chance points,” the coach said.
Starting at center will be junior Kim Shumway (5-10), a strong, athletic post player, Edwards said, who has spent a lot of time developing her post moves over the summer and has also worked on a softer jump shot.
“We’re looking for Kim to be more of an assertive player,” he added.
Also working inside will be Bonnie Rodriguez Harback (5-11), who Edwards said is “another athletic, physical inside presence” who has shown that she can move well without the ball and be an aggressive rebounder.
A versatile player who can play on the wing or inside is sophomore Chayli McArthur, Edwards said.
“She’s a versatile girl who can play multiple positions,” the coach said. “She understands the game very well. She’s a solid rebounder and provides a spark in transition for us.”
Also seeing time on the wing will be junior Kassi Renner, who has shown the ability to be a good jump shooter and will gain more confidence as she sees more playing time, Edwards said.
The Bulldogs have the ability to start four guards and post or run a more traditional, larger lineup, Edwards said, and the starting five will likely depend on the team the Lady Bulldogs are facing. As in the past, the Lady Bulldogs won’t rely on one or two players but will move the ball on offense and find the open player.
The Lady Bulldogs will compete in the Riverton/Lander Tournament this weekend, with varsity games in Riverton and JV contests in Lander.
The Lady Bulldogs will take on Douglas at Riverton High School Friday at 3 p.m., then meet Lander Saturday at 9 a.m. at the adjacent middle school. They wrap up the tournament by meeting Worland Saturday at noon back at RHS.
The Lovell JVs will meet Douglas Friday at 6 p.m. at the auxiliary gym in Lander, then meet Lander at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, again at the auxiliary gym. The JVs will wrap up tournament play Saturday at 3:30 p.m. when they meet Worland at the Lander Fieldhouse.
By David Peck