|Coach: competitive spirit on girls’ team not shaken by low numbers|
By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
With 14 girls on the high school basketball roster, some may believe a tough season is ahead.
But, that’s not the assessment of Lady Longhorn Head Coach Marc Mroczek.
He said the experience back on the team this year, teamed with the girls’ attitude and competitive spirit, are making up for the low numbers.
“The girls are pretty excited,” Mroczek said. “They see they can have a pretty good season.”
The 14 on the roster is the same as last year, after injuries cut the ranks short.
The first games on the Lady Longhorn 2008-09 schedule arrive this week, when Chase County travels to McCook tonight (Thursday) and will host Goodland, Kan., on Friday.
Last year, Chase County opened the season with wins over the same two opponents. That was the first 2-0 opening weekend for Mroczek since he took over the girls’ team as head coach.
He doesn’t expect anything different this week.
It appears McCook has just one returning starter back for their 2008-09 team. Chase County won a 48-45 contest against the Lady Bison last year.
On Friday, Goodland will be in town. Like the Lady Longhorns, the Cowgirls have just 14 on their roster this season. However, last year’s leading scorer for Goodland and another expected returning starter aren’t on this year’s roster.
Chase County collected a commanding win against Goodland in the 2007 game, 53-30.
For these first two games of the season, the game lineup is a little different. On Thursday, contests start at 5 p.m. (MT) in McCook, while first tip-off is 5:30 p.m. Friday in Imperial.
Both nights will have games on the following schedule:
At McCook Thursday—Girls’ varsity starts at 5 p.m., followed by boys’ varsity in main gym. In other gym, boys’ JV starts at 5 p.m. followed by girls’ JV.
At Imperial Friday— Girls’ varsity starts at 5:30 p.m. in Longhorn gym, followed by boys’ varsity. In the Shorthorn gym, boys’ JV starts at 5:30 p.m. followed by girls’ JV.
Team attitude good
It’s been a short, three weeks since the team’s first practice, and that’s been interrupted with some illness and last week’s Thanksgiving break.
However, Mroczek said when the entire team has been there, practices have been very competitive.
“The attitude has been good. I’m pleased with the way they came in from the fall sports seasons,” he said.
“Our top eight girls are very solid across the board,” he said.
With seniors Morgan and Molly Strand in the lineup this year, Mroczek said they will have a height advantage as the season opens this week.
Last year, Molly sat out of basketball season after ACL surgery, but played her freshman and sophomore years.
The Strand sisters are joined on the roster by fellow seniors Nichole Dickey and Kim Brophy. Dickey was a starter last year, and Brophy sat out her junior year after shoulder surgery.
Those four seniors will be the starters, along with sophomore newcomer Karlee Palmer, Mroczek said Monday.
Palmer is a first-year player here, moving to Imperial from Bridgeport, where she played as a freshman. Mroczek said Palmer loves the game, and “will do anything to play basketball.”
Others expected to see action off the bench will be Jilanne German, Lexee Reichert and Shannon Liewer, along with Karlee Kunnemann and Chantal Heathers.
Mroczek said they will have to work on developing some depth, so won’t be pressing as much as they did last year.
Also, the team’s conditioning isn’t where he’d like it to be yet, so Chase County fans will see more half-court defenses this season interspersed with the press, “to keep them off guard,” he said.
Here is the roster for the 2008-09 Lady Longhorn team:
Seniors—Kim Brophy, Nichole Dickey, Molly Strand, Morgan Strand.
Juniors—Jilanne German, Karlee Kunnemann.
Sophomores—Karlee Palmer, Carolina Ramos, Lexee Reichert, Jackie Smith.
Freshmen—Shayla Dinnel, Chantal Heathers, Michaela Ketter, Shannon Liewer.
Dickey, the Strands, German and Reichert are returning letter winners.
Not much change on schedule
One welcome change on the schedule this season comes on this opening weekend.
After five years of trying, Chase County was able to get it worked out to have one home game and one away this first weekend of the season. Previously, both were on the road one year and at home the next.
It was especially tough for Mroczek’s teams when both the Thursday and Friday games opening weekend were away.
The Lady Longhorns will return to Alliance for the holiday tournament, this year set for Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 29-30.
Sub-districts will also be at Alliance Feb. 16-17-19, 2009, the same location as last year.
Haxtun, Colo., was dropped from the Chase County schedule this year.
Garden County remains on Chase County’s schedule despite dropping from the SPVA Conference this year. Maxwell replaced Garden County in the conference, but games with them couldn’t get scheduled by either school this year, said CCS Activities Director Mark Bottom.
Maxwell will be at the SPVA tournament in January.