After a rocky start to the season last year, the Great Falls High girls basketball team found a push when it mattered most, winning three of their final five regular season games to propel them to the State tournament. They eventually fell to Hellgate in their second loser-out matchup.
The Bison lost some very good players to graduation last year, including Hadlee Bleskin and Erin Watt, However, now senior Jorgie Hawthorne is eager to fill those shoes and make a statement in the upcoming season.
“I think the biggest thing last year was the chemistry right at the end, and a lot of the girls we’ve got out here today, they were at that tournament and they were supporting us and they were playing and I think that experience is gonna be good for us coming in,” said Hawthorne. “I think I’ve always had a leadership role on this team, but I definitely feel the gap that Hadlee and Erin left. Hadlee was big for us leadership-wise and Erin was big on the floor, and I think filling them might take a little bit of time, cause we’re used to having them there , but I think we’ll be okay.”
Head coach Jerry Schmitz returns as head coach this year, and said this team will look similar to last year’s team. With just 3 seniors on the squad, he hopes to use their leadership to build around, adding that the extra size he acquired this season will be beneficial down low. While it’s still early in the season, it’s never too early to start planning for a championship..
“I think the kids understand what it takes to get there now, and that you have to start well. You don’t always get to that point where you start playing well later in the season. You have to start playing well right off the top,” said Schmitz. “We do have some bigger kids, so we maybe won’t be quite so guard-oriented like we’ve been in the past, so we’ll get the ball inside maybe a little more, but that’s what I can see right now.”
The Lady Bison will open the season at home this year. They’ll host both Flathead and Glacier. The Bravettes will pay a visit to the Bison Fieldhouse on Friday, December 13th at 7:00 pm. The team will then turn around and play the Wolfpack the following afternoon on Saturday, December 14th at 2:00 pm.
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