With 18 girls on the team, many with varsity experience from last year, Rocky Mountain High School girls basketball coach Eric Honeyman and his team have a lot to be excited about this season.
Honeyman’s current lineup of varsity players includes seniors Marissa Arnold, Summer Johnson and Bricki Durand. Both Arnold and Johnson were starters last season. Durand played JV.
In addition to the three seniors, others slated for varsity play include juniors Pepper Lewis, Brenda Timmons, Maddy Hocker and Abby Arnold. Sophomores include Tori Steed, Gabie Christensen and Mylenda Davison. Teagan Townsend, a freshman, is also expected to play varsity this season.
Honeyman noted that many of the young girls saw a good deal of time on the varsity court last season. He said the experience of the underclassmen coupled with some of the strong seniors (like Arnold and Johnson) returning could be a winning combination for the team.
“Having Marissa return obviously helps,” said Honeyman. “She’s been all-conference and all-state, and we all know what she can do. We also have Summer Johnson, another all-conference player, back with us, too.”
Honeyman said the two bring a lot of leadership to the varsity team because of their experience.
“They have been nothing but great leaders so far,” said Honeyman. “They keep morale going and they keep the positive attitude going. They know the system and they know the drills and the routines, and that gets everyone else kind of rockin’ and rollin’ with that, as well.”
Abby Arnold, Christensen, Steed, Townsend and Davison are expected to see a lot of time on both the varsity and JV teams. Others on the JV squad include Naiomi Alcala, Jacque Leonhardt, Abrianna Crosby, Brenna Brost, Malia Hedges and Turk Tryon.
“I can’t say enough about our JV team,” said Honeyman. “They’re working their butts off and each one brings different elements to the team.”
Townsend, Crosby, Brost, Hedges and Tryon will also play on the freshman team, as will foreign exchange student Pani Areeprachapirom.
“Freshman Teagan Townsend is definitely a very talented player and she’s one who will definitely be seeing a lot of time on the varsity team,” said Honeyman. “Abrianna Crosby has also been impressing me in practice. She has great hands, great foot speed and she’s a worker. I love how she comes to practice every day and just pushes.
“Turk Tryon is also showing up at practice and getting better each day. Malia Hedges also has quite a bit of up side and once she starts getting into basketball shape, she should come around pretty good. She’s quick and she’s not afraid of contact and she plays hard. Brenna Brost is a very strong kid and she works hard, too. We also have a new foreign exchange student from Thailand (Areeprachapirom), we call her ‘Penny’ for short. She’s been very willing to learn.”
Honeyman said, after three years of coaching, he is beginning to see the team really take shape.
“When I took over this job three years ago, I knew in about three years what I’d be getting. I’m excited to see it all come together,” said Honeyman “The girls are pumped, the practices have been very challenging, upbeat and competitive, and that’s good.”
Honeyman noted that a lot of the girls are still in top shape from playing volleyball.
“It was good that the volleyball season had a pretty solid game going at the end,” said Honeyman. “Jenny Christiansen and her staff did a great job. It stunk that they lost that last game, but it has given them motivation and they’re coming into the basketball season hungry to win.”
Honeyman said the girls have worked hard in the off-season, attending camps and working in the gym and he expects that to make a big difference this season.
“Our summer program has been great,
attendance was up, camp attendance was great,” said Honeyman. “I see a group of girls who have bought in and are ready to take the next step. They’re ready to make some noise in the state, in 2A, and I think they are hungry. Our motto is ‘win every week’ and that’s what we are shooting for. They know if they win every week, it will put us in a position to be successful at Regionals and at State.”
Honeyman said the girls have “good staff, good administration and good school spirit” on their side. He said that coupled with the fact that they are “great kids” makes him feel like it’s going to be a great year for the Lady Grizz.
JV coach is Jacob May. This is his fourth year coaching the team. Coach Justin Moss, formerly the freshman boys coach, will be coaching the freshman girls this year.
“What I like about both of these coaches is they bring a lot of excitement to practices,” said Honeyman. “They want to see the girls win. They want to see them succeed, just like the community does.”
Managers are Janaka Brand, Mya Meier and Kaitlyn Grant.
The first two games of the season will be played at home on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the girls will host Tongue River with games at 2 and 3:30 p.m. Honeyman said he expects the TR Lady Eagles to bring a tough game and noted that it’s been a long time since the Lady Grizz have beat TR.
On Saturday, the girls will host Burlington, a small but scrappy team. Games times are at 4 and 5:30 p.m. Honeyman noted that the Lady Huskies have a new coach and though they struggle to keep their numbers up, they are always a hard fighting team.
“I think it’s going to be two great games this weekend and I’m excited about it,” said Honeyman.
By Patti Carpenter