The Libby High School girls basketball team faced a 41-24 loss to Eureka and pulled off a 49-15 win over Polson last week, as they continue to adjust to the loss of star senior Jayden Winslow near the end of winter break.
Libby Head Coach Wally Winslow said that Jayden Winslow is recovering well from an injury sustained at practice, and that he is hoping she will be ready to play against Browning next weekend, when the Lady Loggers face them at home on Saturday, Jan. 26.
But, her team is taking the opportunity to grow in Winslow’s absence.
“They’re gettin there,” said Coach Winslow. “I do think the Polson game, we made some steps in the right direction. We’re changing some lineups and having some kids on the court at different times who haven’t always been out there together.”
The Lady Loggers have been playing together for about six years, and there is adjustment both for the experienced players and those who are playing more since Christmas, Winslow said.
“You’re taking two- to- three weeks to try to redo something that’s six years in the making,” he said.
The Lady Loggers are “juggling lineups,” Winslow said. Some of that is just seeing what results he will get as players are moved into different positions.
Against teams such as Whitefish — who Libby faces Saturday at home — the Lady Loggers have players who can match the strength and size the Lady Bulldogs will bring.
“They just haven’t had a lot of time on the court together, so we have to try to get out there and see what we can do,” Winslow said.
Against Polson, Winslow said that sophomores Taylor Holm and Elise Erickson made good contributions coming off the bench, as did senior Alli Collins throughout the game.
“So it was a good team effort by all of the kids that started and played the majority of minutes, but also the kids that came off the bench,” he said.
Against Eureka, Libby faced a strong team that came at them hard.
“They’re physical, they’re athletic, they’re very aggressive, and if you make a mistake, they’ll take advantage of it,” Winslow said.
He said he felt that Libby allowed the Lady Lions to dictate how the game was played at times, putting the Lady Loggers on their heels.
“It didn’t happen the whole game,” he said. “There were stretches where that role was reversed, and that’s when we played our best basketball.”
Winslow said he is working with his players on being more aggressive on the court, “To be the team that’s forcing the tempo and dictating what’s happening in the game.”
For the younger players, there’s still a lot of adjustment to that, even in just moving to varsity-level play.
“They’re playing against better athletes. The pace of the game’s faster. There’s more sets that we run, offensively and defensively,” Winslow said. With the confusion that adds, the players fall back on trying to think things through instead of reacting instinctively, slowing them down.
“It’s our job as coaches to put the girls in the game, and get them in situations where they understand what we’re doing. You don’t want to give them too much to think about, only as much as they need,” he said.
The Lady Loggers play next at Ronan tonight, with the varsity game starting at 5:30 p.m. They play at home on Saturday, when they will host Whitefish at the Ralph Tate Memorial Gym, with junior varsity starting at 1 p.m. and varsity at 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 9
Battle of the Kootenai
Eureka 41, Libby 24
L: 8 2 8 6 - 24
E: 9 13 12 7 - 41
Eureka: Rhianna Hawkins 2 points, 0-2 FT; Megan Hanson 9 points, 3-3 FT; Sienna Utter 15 points; Maggie Graves 13 points, 2-4 FT; Karlee Frost 2 points
Libby: Alli Collins 10 points, 0-2 FT; Emma Gruber 1 points, 1-2 FT; Samantha Miller 3 points; Sammee Bradeen 6 points, 4-6 FT; McKenzie Proffitt 4 points, 0-1 FT
Saturday, Jan. 12
Libby 49, Polson 15
L: 13 8 18 10 - 49
Polson: 6 2 0 7 - 15
Libby: Syd Gier 3 points; Alli Collins 10 points, 0-2 FT; Emma Gruber 6 points, 2-2 FT; Samantha Miller 3 points; Sammee Bradeen 10 points, 4-4 FT; McKenzie Proffitt 5 points, 1-4 FT; Elise Erickson 4 points, 4-4 FT; Taylor Holm 6 points; Sheyla Gallagher 2 points
Polson: Misty Tenas 2 points; Mahala Buffalo 2 points; Karly Lawson 2 points; Sharmane Zemple 8 points, 0-5 FT; Mossy Kauley 1 points, 1-2 FT