By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
With a larger roster and six returning letterwinners, the Chase County girls’ basketball team heads into the 2010-11 season with a positive outlook.
That’s according to Head Coach Nancy Sorensen, who moved up from last year’s Lady Longhorn assistant coaching position, and is working with a roster of 22 players.
She’s joined by a new assistant coach, Chris Sander, a first-year teacher/coach who has been a great addition to the program, Sorensen said.
That larger number of returners, mixed in with a lot of younger players, Sorensen said, should provide some team strength this season.
“It’s nice having the larger number especially at practice, but also in the games,” she said.
Last year, Chase County struggled with depth on the girls’ basketball team, having just 13 on the 2009-10 roster.
But, 14 freshmen on this year’s roster has bumped up that number. They are joined by two sophomores, four juniors and a pair of seniors.
Returning Lady Longhorn letterwinners include Lexee Reichert, Alexis Tropf, Chantal Heathers, Shannon Liewer, Michaela Ketter and Bethany Sorensen.
Reichert, the team’s leading scorer last season with 11.8 points per game, is coming off surgery to repair a broken finger in her shooting hand, suffered during the fall softball season.
But, Sorensen said she is “good to go” and did play extensively last week.
The Lady Longhorns got in an early game Tuesday, Nov. 23, an exhibition contest against Hitchcock County, that won’t count toward their overall season record. The game was a fundraiser for the Nebraska High School Hall of Fame.
Despite their 29-47 loss, Coach Sorensen noted there were a lot of good things that showed up in the game.
“I’ve asked them to pick up the tempo, to push the ball up the floor quicker,” and they did that last week, Sorensen said.
The younger girls on the team also stepped up, “and that was good to see,” she said.
Top scorers for Chase County in the exhibition game were Alexis Tropf with 10, along with Lexee Reichert and Shannon Liewer, each with six.
Chase County and Hitchcock County were knotted 8-8 at the end of the first, after the Lady Longhorns fell behind 2-8. Tropf and Reichert combined for six unanswered points to tie the game at the first quarter buzzer.
Hitchcock County pulled away in the second quarter, taking a 23-14 halftime lead. The second half saw continued strong scoring from the Lady Falcons, led by junior Laramey Lewis who finished the night with 21 points.
“We started off good in that game, but we got tired,” Sorensen said.
Sorensen said her team needs to work on fewer turnovers and gain more confidence on the floor. Improvement areas include work on fundamentals and being more aggressive, she said She’s hoping for a good showing tonight (Thursday) when Chase County hosts Cozad, a new team on the schedule. Tonight’s game replaces the Goodland, Kan. contest.
Cozad has a new coach on board this season, Michael Gogan, so Sorensen isn’t sure what they’ll be seeing from the Lady Haymakers.
Then on Friday this week, the teams travel to McCook, where they face the Lady Bison. Sorensen expects them to have some experience back, and improved over last year.
Next weekend, the JV and varsity teams have back-to-back games again hosting Sidney on Friday, Dec. 10, then traveling to Ogallala on Saturday, Dec. 11.
Here is the full roster of the girls’ team by grade:
Seniors—Lexee Reichert, Alexis Tropf.
Juniors—Chantal Heathers, Michaela Ketter, Kacia Smith, Shannon Liewer.
Sophomores—Morgan Fisher, Bethany Sorensen.
Freshmen—Kristen Jussel, Makala Bartels, Kaycee Bubak, Alyssa Fisher, Emma Engbrecht, Naomi Harmon, Bridget Langin, Mallory Coleman, Andrea Hogsett, Kelsey Wood, Blair Hartman, Jaclyn Morales, Anna Bauerle, Jodi Koellner.
Game times Thursday, Friday
The game format will be slightly different for tonight’s (Thursday’s) games here against Cozad.
At 5 p.m., the girls’ varsity game starts in the Longhorn gym, while the JV boys’ game gets underway in the Shorthorn gym.
At about 6:30 p.m., the varsity boys will begin play in the Longhorn gym (after the girls’ game), while the JV girls start in the Shorthorn gym.
On Friday in McCook, action starts with both JV games at 5 p.m. MT, followed by the varsity games.