By Brandon Walker EBS EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
BIG SKY – No matter the level of play, veteran leadership is a valuable asset to athletic teams everywhere. Whether at the professional or high school level, teams typically lean on those who have ‘been there before’ to guide them throughout the year and especially into the postseason. Following a season in which the Lone Peak High School varsity girls basketball squad finished around .500 and graduated two seniors, first-year head coach Loren Bough is set to lead a very young Lady Big Horns team into the 2019-2020 campaign.
LPHS does not have any seniors on their roster. The Lady Big Horns will have to rely on the experience of two juniors and a sophomore, who are accompanied by a platoon of talented freshmen. Ivy Hicks, one of two juniors on the team, is looking forward to seeing how the group will cohere as a unit. “It’s a little intimidating going into the season, to be honest. But I think it’s going to be fun because our whole team is going to get to grow,” she said.
The freshmen on the team are accustomed to winning. As 8th graders, they won 27 consecutive games, going undefeated on the season, before arriving on the high school scene. One of those freshmen is point guard Jessie Bough. She described her excitement for the challenge that the next level of play will bring: “I think we all know it is going to be a totally different season and that obviously we will have to kind of restart. We can take what we did last year, but we have to move it up a few levels. I think that’s what we’re trying to do,” Bough said. “We’ve been talking a lot with the three older girls that we have about what we can do to combine everything that we’ve learned and put it together to use this year to improve. We don’t have any seniors so we’re not going to lose anyone next year.”
Coach Bough has been impressed with his team’s energy so far as they have been practicing twice daily, already completing more than the minimal requirement of practices in preparation for their first game. “I think you’ll see continual improvement. The leaders on the team will develop over the course of the season. We don’t necessarily know who that will be in the first couple games,” coach Bough said.
Defense has been, and will be, the focal point for Bough and his team this year. “Our goals for the season mention only defense and execution. We’re not going to be as much offensive-minded as we want to be the best defensive team on the court every night,” Bough said.
There is a consistent theme shared between both the boys and girls varsity basketball teams regarding what their strengths would be this season: “Team chemistry and hard work are going to be our big strengths,” coach Bough said. “We’ve got really good chemistry.” Hicks and Bough echoed their coach’s words, citing team chemistry as essential to their success this season.
“Our real end goal will be how we play at the end of the season, not how we play at the start of the season,” said coach Bough. The season begins Dec. 7 for the Lady Big Horns when they play host to the Absarokee Huskies. “I’m pretty pumped. I think it’s going to be amazing. All the girls, our chemistry is really good so far, so I’m pretty excited,” Hicks said.