by Scott Boyle
After starting 5-1, the Monticello Lady Buckaroos reached the Christmas vacation with a 5-4 record after a three game losing streak. Early close wins over Grand and San Juan brought out the best in the Lady Red Devils and the Lady Broncos in the return games, both recording revenge victories over the Lady Bucks.
Both teams might have discovered the Bucks’ Achilles Heel, a full court press. The Red Devils used the press to hold the Bucks to only one point in the fourth quarter and nine in the second half. The Lady Broncos also used the press to great advantage, outscoring the Bucks 19-6 in the third quarter to put that game away.
With the new year comes the all-important region contests, beginning with Green River on January 10.
Second year coach Kati Nebeker recently responded to some SJR questions about her team.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your team this year.
A: This year has been exciting. We have a great group of girls to work with who are very low maintenance, which I appreciate. This year’s team is strong inside and outside of the key. It is fun to watch these young girls enjoying playing together; they have great personality on and off the court.
Q: What experience do you have returning?
A: We have two seniors, seven juniors, five sophomores, and two freshmen. We are young, but we have great leadership on the court with our seniors.
Q: So far into the season, what has been your team strength this year?
A: Our strengths have been working together and not giving up on what we want to accomplish in each game, both offensively and defensively.
Q: Any weaknesses you dare discuss openly?
A: Who doesn’t have weaknesses? We are having a hard time closing games when we have a lead, but we are getting better. I think the girls just want to make things fun for the spectators.
Q: Who are your go-to players?
A: First girl I think of is Ashley Dowell, but the fun thing about this group is that every one of them are willing to step up and make things happen if they are needed.
Q: Who is your top defensive player?
A: Our top defensive player is Nichole Freestone. She makes things happen on defensive, which in turns sparks the offense.
Q: Who is your top offensive player?
A: Our top offensive player is Ashley Dowell. She is used to having three girls on her in practice, so games are fun for her.
Q: Who is having a break-out season?
A: Surprise players would have to include Clara Alvarez. She has become a leader on the court. She has some amazing passes and they are getting softer so the girls can catch them, and her out side shooting is a real boost to the team. Joelyn Palmer would be another girl who is willing to play anywhere I put her. She is great on the boards, and is becoming a threat on offense.
Q: How about the JV and C teams? How are they looking?
A: Our JV team makes improvements every game they play. They are young, but pick up on the offense and defense quick. They are learning new things every day. They will push themselves and will go far as they get older and develop more fundamentals every year.
Q: What kind of basketball do you play?
A: The best kind Monticello girls basketball, of course!!! We like to play team ball and work together.
Q: What has been a highlight so far this year?
A: Highlight this year so far would be the San Juan game, winning by one and the Moab game, winning by two. These girls really know how to keep me squeaking or yelling in soprano all game long.
Q: Best case scenario, how do you see this team doing?
A: I have told the girls we take everything one game at a time, give 110% and good things will happen.
Q: What is a method you use in practice and in games to build the team concept in basketball?
A: Fundamentals are a key to a sound team. You play how you practice, defense wins games, shoot to score, believe in each other, love the game!
Q: Who are your assistant coaches?
A: Jymi Adams is my J.V. coach and coached with me last year. She pushes the younger girls to be their best and expects no less and no excuses. Elisa Rogers is my assistance on varsity. She is a key to keeping the girls boxing out under the basket and brings a lot of energy to the team.