Lady Loggers head into season with deep bench

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | January 5, 2021 7:00 AM

Thanks to a strong showing from the freshman class, the Lady Loggers took to the courts against Frenchtown with three teams this year.

During their away season opener on Jan. 2, the varsity team was trampled by the Lady Broncs 40-16.

Coach Jackie DeShazer said the influx of new players has given the team a healthy bench.

“We have a lot of athletes on the team so hopefully we can have a good rotation and keep people fresh,” she said following practice on Dec. 30.

While injuries and coronavirus quarantines have caused the team size to fluctuate on a day-to-day basis, DeShazer said the squad had roughly 23 members. She is counting on the experience of her seven seniors, two juniors and a returning sophomore to help lead the pack of ten freshmen.

Getting new players up to speed has proven to be especially challenging due to the sport’s cramped timeline this year. In efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the executive board of the Montana High School Association delayed the start date for winter sport practices until Dec. 7.

In most years, DeShazer said the Lady Loggers start practicing Thanksgiving week. By New Years’, they regularly have five games under their belts. This season, she said the Lady Loggers will have 14 games in total.

The lull between fall and winter sports has put the onus of staying in shape on the players. Amid quarantines and two school-wide suspensions of in-person learning, senior Elise Erickson said most of the girls have done their best to workout from home.

“It’s been difficult because a lot of us are team people and when you aren’t with the team it can be hard to get motivated,” she said.

In addition to having their seasons trimmed down, the schedules for the boys and girls basketball teams are mirrored so that when one squad faces off at home, the other is away, both playing the same opponent.

Although this system will reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading at sporting events, it promises to cut down on the teams’ fan base. In most years, the two Libby teams count on each other for support at away games.

“I hate the mirror ... It’s going to kill our student section,” said Jim Germany, Libby athletic director during a Dec. 14 school board meeting, “But it’s going to keep our fan size down low enough to manage it.”

Despite the challenges this year has presented, the Lady Loggers were looking forward to their first matchup against the Broncs.

“I think a lot of the younger ones are pretty nervous because it's a long trip and it’s away. But we always play them well so I’m excited,” said Erickson.

“I’m excited to see what they bring,” added junior Taylor Munro.

Going into the Frenchtown game, DeShazer said she planned to try out both zone and man-to-man defensive schemes. The varsity squad has three zone defenses she was eager to test.

As far as the Lady Logger’s goals for this season, DeShazer said the squad is focused on doing well at divisionals. If the team can make a strong showing in their conference they might have a shot of progressing to the state championship.