By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Coming off encouraging weekend, Lady Pioneers want to head into Christmas break on up tick


December 13, 2017

TEN SLEEP - For a young team, the Ten Sleep Lady Pioneers got their basketball season off to solid start at the Upton Invitational.

The Lady Pioneers went 1-2 over the weekend, they opened the tournament, and season, with a 44-18 win over Kaycee. Junior forward Kinley Erickson led all scorers with 20 points and Charity Starr added nine of her own.

Next Ten Sleep played Upton and lost 39-37, Upton hit a 3-pointer with .03 seconds remaining. Sophomore guard Bryley Moore led the Lady Pioneers with eight points.

For their final game the Lady Pioneers, who run six deep, went up against the Spearfish, S.D. freshman team, losing 35-23.

"We were dead the first half. We got outhustled to every ball. It's a tough tournament when you take six kids and we had played two games the day before. They [Spearfish freshmen] had 17 total kids on their team. We were listless and lethargic, we didn't score in the first quarter and scored four for the half, but we were only down 11," said TSHS girls basketball coach Sarah Novak.

The Lady Pioneers were able to fight back in the second half and show that they have the grit it takes to compete.

"We could have been down by 40 but we played decent defense. The second half we were much better and in the fourth they played their best. We did shoot free throws poorly, we were 3 of 15 for that game. There were things like a better start and shooting better from the line that would have helped us. But it was a good teach game for our young team," said Novak.

One area that Novak was impressed with her team was their determination on defense. Especially in the first half when things were not going as planned. The Lady Pioneers still kept their defensive composure even as they were running on fumes.

"They were tired and we told them that they still need to be mentally in the game. Even though they were physically exhausted they could still play smart defense. I was really proud of them because we could have easily been thrashed but the girls were tough and grinded it out," said Novak.

Overall, the weekend was a positive experience for the Lady Pioneers. They experienced a wide range of game scenarios like winning a game, losing a tough game and gutting out a game even when you do not have it.

Novak said, "All in all it was a really good weekend. We played together much better than I thought, it gave us coaches to figure out the next step, they picked up valuable experience and I was just very pleased with the team. We came home from Upton pumped about what we saw and what we did. It was a lot of fun.

"We have kids that are not afraid to shoot the ball. We saw it in practice but weren't sure if we'd see it in a game with someone in their face but we did. The kids were still taking shots and making strong drives to the basket. We rebounded really well, considering our height. I have to give credit to the under level coaches for drilling that into these players. We've had some really good offensive rebounds."

Practice this week for Ten Sleep has already focused on free throws and overcoming the mental block they seemed to face in Upton.

"We've done three free-throw drills on Monday and will continue to do so all week. I have really good shooters and like I was telling them free throws are really just mental. We just chucked it up their over the weekend and hoped for the best, but I think they'll get better as the season goes along," said Novak.

Thursday the Lady Pioneers will host the Rocky Mountain JV team for their home opener and final game of 2017. A win, as always, will be the desired outcome for Novak and her team, but just as important is executing better on offense. That way as they head into the Christmas break they continue to sharpen their offense and defense while adding more wrinkles on both ends.

"We need to polish up our offense a little bit. Our expectation is to not only know what you're doing but what your other four teammates are doing. We'd like to win the game and be .500 going into the break, that would be spectacular going into the break.

"We'll work on a few new things as we get prepared for the conference season. We still have some time before that happens with the break and Big Horn [Hoops Fest], but this break is a good time to put the rest of the game plan for the season in. Our defense is coming around and we want to get our young players up to speed and more comfortable with the game speed," said Novak.

The Lady Pioneers tipoff against Rocky Mountain at 5 p.m. Thursday night at Ten Sleep High School.


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