The Arlee Scarlets girls basketball team will enter the 2017-2018 season with high expectations and for good reason.
Last year, the Lady Scarlets finished second overall in the Montana High School Athletic Association after they lost in the championship round 62-33 to the Belt Huskies.
The Huskies, the defending Class C champions from last season, have qualified for the championship game for the last ten consecutive seasons and this season the Huskies look to make it their 11th straight season.
The Scarlets will lose two players that were over 6-feet tall including Carly Hergett and Bryndle Goyins on this year’s team.
They will return three of the starting five from last year’s team.
“The first day of practice went really well,” Scarlets’ coach Bill Stockton said. “There was a lot of excitement and we hope we can continue the success of last season. We are making sure that we work hard every day. We know we will have to if we want to put a state championship trophy in our gym. We will have to give full effort every day.”
Stockton fully suspects as he continues to solidify his team roster that the amount of playoff experience his starters and bench players have accumulated will be significant.
“We will have three starters coming back from last year’s team and we have two others that came off the bench quite a bit last year,” Stockton said. “Our players have played in big games. They know what they have to do in order to step up this year and fill some of the roles.”
Stockton said he felt the Scarlets offensive attack will be different this year because they relied so heavily on their length and inside game to succeed.
“You know it’s going to be a little bit different this year,” Stockton said. “We are going to rely a lot on our transition offense and we are going to be athletic and fast. That is going to be part of the changes that we will make. We will have some of the same quickness but we will just be a little bit shorter. We will have to run a lot more half court sets and be a little bit more creative offensively. Our offense will be OK but on defense, we will have to get more loose balls and rebounds because we just aren’t going to outreach people.”
Because of the number of players with playoff experience Stockton has returning to this year’s team, he is “optimistic” about the team’s level of experience going into this season.
“I think having a few extra games worth of experience is awesome,” Stockton said. “The more games we play together, the better we play as a unit. We also got to play quality teams in those extra games we played. In Divisionals and Atate, we played against some of the best teams in Class C. We had to keep on battling back in the Divisional championship and that experience is what I am banking on. I am excited to see how the girls respond and who steps up this year.”
Stockton said he anticipates his team playing deep into the playoffs again as he continues to sort out who starts for the Scarlets this year.
Arlee will begin its season at the Native American Classic at Salish Kootenai College on Dec 8-9 in Pablo.
The tournament will feeature 19 teams from the throughout of Montana.