It was a confidence-building week for the Lady Grizz basketball team this week, as they won all three games on their schedule. Two of the games were against conference teams (Greybull and Riverside) and one was against a scrappy 1A team from Burlington.
The girls began their winning streak this week in an away game that took them to Burlington to play against the Lady Huskies on Thursday, where the Lady Grizz prevailed 55-25.
The team came out dominating the first three quarters against the Lady Huskies, taking the lead 16-2 the first quarter, 16-4 in the second and 17-8 in the third. The girls went into the fourth quarter with a very strong lead of 49-14. That’s when things began to unravel a bit, allowing the Lady Huskies to put 11 points on the scoreboard. Though the girls held their lead, coach Eric Honeyman said he would have been pleased if they could have held on a little tighter in that last quarter.
“Our big thing this week, and this season, is playing all four quarters,” said Honeyman. “We have a tough time doing that still. We play three very solid quarters and then we take one off. This is something we are talking to the girls about a lot. It’s something we need to work on.”
The team continues to focus on developing a strong defense.
“In the first quarter, we really set the tone,” said Honeyman. “We came out with a very strong defense and we maintained that pretty much all weekend. For the most part, that’s been really solid. When we play Lady Grizz defense it is fun to watch.”
Honeyman said he was really happy to see 17 assists during the game. He noted that number continues to increase in every game, showing the girls are really playing as a team. The girls also had about 20 steals in the game and only 12 turnovers. He said the team’s rebounding improved, as well.
“We still need to clean up some things, but our rebounding has gotten much better at 35, compared to about 24 to 25 a game,” said Honeyman. “We’re starting to take pride in our rebounds and that’s good.”
Honeyman said though a few of the girls were battling a bug, others rose to the occasion to take pressure off while they regained their health.
“We really wanted to limit those girls, to keep them fresh and get them healthy for the two conference games (Riverside on Friday and Greybull on Saturday) we had ahead of us. The girls who were feeling good did their part.”
The team shot 40 percent from the floor. Marissa Arnold led the team in points with 15. Gabie Christensen had 12 points, Mylenda Davison and Pepper Lewis had 6 points apiece. Teagan Townsend and Maddy Hocker had 4 points apiece and Summer Johnson, Tori Steed, Brenda Timmons and Brickie Durand chipped in 2 apiece. Honeyman was pleased to see nearly everyone on the team contribute to the scoreboard.
“I give credit to Burlington,” said Honeyman. “They will compete well in their 1A conference.”
On Friday, the girls were on the road again for a game hosted by the Riverside Lady Rebels in Basin. It was the team’s first conference game of the season and the girls prevailed, 56-24.
Honeyman said the girls came out in the first quarter not quite ready to play, allowing the Lady Rebels to get more points than he would have liked to have seen. The girls went into the quarter with a slight lead of 8-7 and widened that gap considerably in the second quarter, scoring 21 to Riverside’s 7. The Lady Grizz continued to dominate through the second half, 17-3 in the third and 10-7 in the fourth.
“It took us a little bit to get going,” said Honeyman. “Our defense wasn’t what I wanted to see that first quarter but then we woke it up and outscored them by quite a bit in the second. We played our defense again and worked our offense and by the third quarter we were ahead 46-17. Again, we were a quarter off.”
Honeyman said he felt the team had too many turnovers in Riverside with 20. He said it’s important to clean that up in future games. The team had 32 rebounds, including 15 by Arnold alone. Honeyman said Arnold was definitely controlling the boards and playing extremely well. He said a few of the girls were still feeling under the weather, so he tried not to push them too hard.
Arnold was the points-leader with 20, Johnson and Townsend had 8 apiece, Davison and Lewis had 6 points each and Hocker and Christensen had 4 points.
On Saturday, the Lady Grizz hosted the Lady Buffs at home, prevailing 48-42 against the tough team from Greybull.
Arnold led in points with 14, Townsend had 10, Lewis had 7, Hocker and Timmons had 6 apiece and Johnson had 5.
Honeyman said he thought Townsend had a solid weekend, making some key contributions that helped the team a lot, especially during the game with Greybull. He said he also thought Lewis had a good weekend. He noted that it was another very solid weekend for Arnold and he was also very impressed with Johnson, who “quietly does her thing” with lots of assists, steals and rebounds to her credit.
“It’s nice to know I have girls on the team who will do everything they can to help the team win,” said Honeyman. “It’s good to see. It’s just nice. Having that first conference win right away was good for morale.”
That gives the girls at 2-0 record in their conference.
Honeyman said he wasn’t sure how the girls would do with so many consecutive games, but said he was very pleased to see them handle it so well, maintaining a solid defense throughout most of the game.
“We take a lot of pride in our defense,” said Honeyman. “We want to be the best defensive team we can be. I can’t say enough about coaches Moss and May and their role in that. They work super hard for the girls and do everything they can to support them. That strong defense really sets the tone in every game.”
The Lady Grizz had a 22-point lead going into the fourth quarter with Greybull. Honeyman said he thought the girls got a little too relaxed in that quarter and need to work on a stronger finish in the future, even when they are ahead. Honeyman said that lapse in focus allowed Greybull to outscore the girls 27-11 in that final quarter, bringing the score a little too close for comfort. He gave credit to Townsend and Johnson for their hard work in the final quarter, which contributed greatly to the team hanging on to its lead. He
said Timmons also saved the day with two “big” free throws at the end that put a win out of reach for the Lady Buffs.
Again he thought the team allowed too many turnovers, with 12 in the final quarter alone. He reiterated that was something that needed to be cleaned up. In spite of that, he thought most of the girls played pretty solid and he was pleased with the outcome. He said the girls “get better and better each week” and he “couldn’t ask for more.”
“Greybull is one of the top teams in the conference,” said Honeyman. “They are very strong and very well coached. It was nice to take that win; it’s been a couple of years since we’ve been able to beat them. The girls were very happy about that. It was good to end the week 3-0. The girls were smiling.”
Next up, the girls will take on local rival the Lady Bulldogs in Lovell on Friday with games at 4 and 5:30 p.m.
“Lovell is good every year and they have a darn good coach in Coach Edwards,” said Honeyman. “In my first year, he was a mentor to me. He’s not only a good friend, but a really good coach, too. He is highly respected throughout the state. One thing for sure is that his girls work very hard. They are going to come at us, for sure, and they are gonna play a fast tempo and press hard.
“They are one of the top teams in the conference, so it’s important that we play all four quarters this time and give it our all for 32 minutes. There are no other games this weekend, so we are hoping the girls will give it everything they can
for that game. I give Lovell a lot of credit. They have one of the best coaches in the state and they are very good. It should be an exciting game.”
By Patti Carpenter