Season opener arrives Thursday against Cozad Lady Haymakers
By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
When Chase County’s girls’ basketball team takes to the hardwood for their season opener tonight (Thursday), fans will see a strong presence of seniors on the floor.
Head Coach Mark Bottom, at the helm of the Lady Longhorn coaching staff for his first time this season after being assistant last year, said he’s got a good group of seven seniors on the team that complement a roster of 27 players.
“It’s going well,” he said of his job as head coach.
“I’m benefitting from a good group of seniors. I’m learning a lot,” he added.
The team will have just two and a half weeks of practice preceded by a week of conditioning before tip-off Thursday night.
But, with a number of other school activities taking players away, he said the whole team has been there for just four practices.
“But, it’s that way for everybody. The girls are ready for a game,” he said.
The Lady Longhorns will host Cozad Thursday, who handed Chase County a heartbreaking one-point loss last year on the road.
Both JV teams tip off at 4 p.m. (girls in the Longhorn gym, boys in the Shorthorn), followed by varsity girls’ and boys’ games in the Longhorn gym.
That will be followed up with a road game at McCook Friday. Action there starts with the JV games at 3 p.m. MT.
Last year, McCook dealt the varsity team a 20-point loss after Chase County jumped out to a quick six-point lead. However, three key players were on the bench that game with injuries.
Bottom said practice is going well, following a good week of conditioning. He said Asst. Coach Jeff Gleisberg has been doing an effective job with team conditioning.
“We’re on track. We’re ready to transition to games now,” he said.
He said the team’s strengths at this point in the season are its quickness, defense and their transition game—pushing the ball up the floor with determination and speed.
Bottom said fans won’t see a lot of change in their offense or defense from last season.
Areas they still need to improve are shooting efficiency, free throws and offensive spacing.
The coach will draw on a solid group of 10 players for the varsity games, including most of the seniors—MaKenna Ketter, Paige Spady, Valeria Cervantes, Taylar Nickless, Makenna Wallin, Emma Bauerle and Jessica Hartman.
Others expected to see a lot of varsity playing time will be junior Cheyanne Kuhlmann and sophomores Destiny Reinke and Taylin McNair.
New additions on the schedule for individual games, both on the Longhorn court this season, are Kimball and Bridgeport. Those two teams joined the SPVA Conference the past two years.
North Platte St. Pat’s is expected to be the team to beat in the conference this season, he said. St. Pat’s and Sutherland (another SPVA school) both qualified for state last season.
Subdistricts will be played in Alliance in mid-February.
Asst. Coach Gleisberg comes to the team with a lot of exposure to basketball. His dad was a longtime boys’ basketball coach in the state. Gleisberg was also an assistant boys’ coach last year at Gothenburg where he student taught.
Also joining the team as a volunteer assistant coach will be Kyle Bottom, who graduates from college this week and will be back in Imperial for a few months.
Here is the roster of Lady Longhorn players listed by class.
Seniors— MaKenna Ketter, Paige Spady, Valeria Cervantes, Taylar Nickless, Makenna Wallin, Emma Bauerle and Jessica Hartman.
Sophomores—Kadyn Milner, Destiny Reinke, Josie Peterson, Shaylee Heathers, Taylin McNair, Molly Luhrs, Megan Engbrecht, Mikaela O’Brien, Sarah Allen, Kaylee Meeske. Freshmen—Lauren Gockley, Peyton Fiedler, Ansley Wood, Emma Ferguson, Ragan Nickless, Andrea Page, Stevie Johnson, Ryelee Christensen, Whitney Hopp.