Arlee Scarlets get ready for traditional second half run

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ARLEE FORWARD Alyssia Vanderburg battles for a loose ball in last year's regular season contest against Charlo. Scarlets' coach Bill Stockton said Vanderburg is "much improved," headed into the the 2017-2018 campaign after playing a season of AAU basketball. (photo by Jason Blasco/Lake County Leader)

Arlee High School girls basketball coach Bill Stockton used last season’s break to help provide the necessary spark that was the catalyst to his team making it to the Class C state championship game after starting out the season with a 3-3 record.

This season, headed into the break, the Scarlets have a 4-2 record and they are looking to make their run in the second half of the season.

“I think one of the biggest things early on in the season is the play and execution on offense,” Stockton said. “It just isn’t there yet.”

Though Stockton said he felt his team has done a “solid job” overall, there are still some things his team needs to fine tune as they prepare for the second half of the season.

“We need to work on communication between teammates and understanding responsibility on the court, which is still lacking,” Stockton said. “During the break, we had an opportunity to tighten up what we should be doing offensively, those sets and defensive rotations, and communication because the first half comes up on your really quick. It’s an abrupt transition from one sport to the next and we are still fully getting immersed into basketball mode. I think we are going to start getting better as the season goes along.”

This year, the road to Divisional and state isn’t going to be easy, according to Stockton.

“The competition in our district and region is pretty stiff,” Stockton said. “We have quite a bit of girls coming back with experience. A lot of our bench didn’t have minutes last year and those girls are stepping up. It is kind of nice to see that. I feel like we are starting to click a little bit better as a group.”

One of the key components for Arlee’s team left from the last season is the development of Alyssa Vandenberg. During the offseason, Vanderburg played AAU basketball and traveled all over the country, according to Stockton.

“She put in a lot of time over the summer and she has the ability to score with the basketball,” Stockton said. “She is one of the best offensive players in the western part of Montana. As the team gels together, we are going to see a huge improvement out of a bunch of our girls and that is exciting (going into the second half of the season).”

Last season during the second half the Scarlets virtually were unchallenged until they lost in the championship game to Belgrade.

Arlee has three of its five starters from last season’s second place team on the varsity squad this year and they are still solidying positions and mixing and matching lineup combinations.

The Scarlets have proven time and again they make adjustments coming out of the break headed into the second half.

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