Posted 11/24/15 (Tue)
By Jody Michael
The first girls’ basketball contests of the 2015-16 season take place next week, with all area teams in action. The following week, beginning Dec. 7, will be the annual tip-off tournament in Tioga.
Coaches said their teams are working hard to prepare for their first games.
Head coach Matt Ray said being in his second year as Jays head coach has him expecting better results, especially with four starters returning from last season’s 11-12 finish.
“We’re going to be running the same stuff, so they already know the expectations I have,” Ray said. “Hopefully that means we can hit the ground running, since we’re not learning everything new.”
Just like last year, most of the varsity players have missed the first week and a half of practice, as they competed at the state finals for volleyball and one-act play, but Ray said the rest have been doing well.
“The younger girls are looking all right,” Ray said. “So far, we’re looking better than we looked at the start of last year.”
The Jays added two players who transferred into the district this year, which Ray said will provide some extra depth on the varsity roster.
“If we can play a lot of girls on varsity, that will help,” Ray said. “Rotating 10 girls is what we need to do to play with teams that can run and gun.”
The Jays open the season Tuesday in New Town before hosting Tioga on Dec. 4, both at 7:15 p.m. They’ll play Divide County in Tioga on Dec. 8 at 6 p.m.
The Pirates struggled through an 0-21 season last year but will have three experienced starters returning as they aim to climb up the standings.
“We have quite a few girls returning with some varsity experience from last year, which hopefully can compel us to a quick start,” head coach Trent Roemmich said.
Much like in Ray, Roemmich said he hopes having a year of experience coaching the players already will make a big difference as far as playing smoothly from the outset.
“I’m looking for some improvements in a lot of different areas, from passing to shooting to ball-handling to defense,” he said. “The girls are really working hard thus far.”
The schedule is also more favorable, as games against Nedrose and Alexander, both in their first year of competition, replace some of last year’s more lopsided outcomes.
The Pirates tip off at home Tuesday vs. Towner-Granville-Upham, then head to Ray on Dec. 4, both at 7:15 p.m. Their tip-off tourney opener is Dec. 8 vs. Burke County at 7:30 p.m.
Area coaches are unanimous in eyeing Ray and Stanley as the preseason favorites in District 16.
“Stanley will be very good; Ray is going to be very good,” Divide County head coach Kent Harding said.
“Ray and Stanley will probably be in the top, and Powers Lake returns everyone,” Burke County head coach Aaron Haggin said. “After that, it’s a question of who’s going to be the fourth seed between us, Divide, Tioga and Kenmare.”
Ray agreed that his team is capable of vying for the district crown.
“I see us and Stanley being the top two,” Ray said. “Stanley’s pretty tough, and Powers Lake should be good, because they didn’t lose anybody.
The coaches also expect a balanced district in which every team has to earn its success.
“Any team can win on any given night,” Roemmich said.
“You never know, but we’re hoping to be at the top,” Ray said.
Tioga tip-off tournament
Monday, Dec. 7
G1: Nedrose vs. Trenton, 6
G2: Stanley vs. Powers Lake, 7:30
Tuesday, Dec. 8
G3: G1 loser vs. G2 loser, 4:30
G4: Divide County vs. Ray, 6
G5: Burke County vs. Tioga, 7:30
Thusrday, Dec. 10
G6: G4 loser vs. G5 loser, 4:30
G7: G1 winner vs. G2 winner, 6
G8: G4 winner vs. G5 winner, 7:30
Saturday, Dec. 12
7th-place: G3 loser vs. G6 loser, noon
5th-place: G3 winner vs. G6 winner, 1:30
3rd-place: G7 loser vs. G8 loser, 3
1st-place: G7 winner vs, G8 winner, 4:30