The Chadron State College women’s basketball team will tip off its season this week by playing an exhibition game at the University of Wyoming at 6:30 tonight (Wednesday) and then fly from Denver to play two games in Texas over the weekend to officially open the season.
The Lady Eagles will visit Texas A&M International at Laredo qt 6 p.m. Friday and Texas A&M-Kingsville at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Coach Janet Raymer’s team also played the Wyoming Cowgirls in an exhibition game in Laramie last year and hosted the two Texas teams while the CSC men’s team made the trip to Texas. The International and Kingsville men’s teams are coming north to play at Chadron State and South Dakota Mines this weekend.
The Wyoming women’s team is always solid. The Cowgirls were 22-11 last year and return three starters and another player who saw action in all 33 contests a year ago. Taylor Rusk, a 5-11 junior with a 10.5-point average is the leading scorer from a year ago on this year’s roster. Both Marta Gomez, a 6-1 senior, and Bailee Cotton, a 6-2 senior, averaged more than eight points a game a year ago.
Wyoming won last year’s exhibition with the Eagles 77-25, but a week later the Chadron State women overcame four-point halftime deficits to topple both of the Texas teams in the Chicoine Center.
CSC defeated International 63-56 and edged Kingsville 57-56.
“Early in the season I don’t worry much about the other teams we’re going to play,” said CSC coach Janet Raymer. “I mostly focus on how well we defend and hope we’ll hold down our number of turnovers and make good decisions on offense.”
Raymer believes her team will be improved from a year ago. She said the nine returning members of last year’s 6-22 team have worked hard in the off season and that several of the newcomers are expected to give the team a boost.
Sophomores Taryn Foxen and Jessica Harvey are the top returning scorers from a year ago with averaged of 9.5 and 7.6, respectively. The coach added that 6-3 center Savannah Weidauer has definitely improved and is pleased that forward Jessica Lovitt, who played with bruised ribs last season, is healthier and seems likely to make a much larger contribution this winter.
Among the newcomers, Raymer believes transfer Haley Urbatsch, who averaged about 16 points last season at Gillette College, will give the team a boost offensively. The coach also expects freshman Jori Peters of Mitchell to give provide lots of energy in the backcourt on both offense and defense.
Another transfer, Rebecca Stevenson, could give the Eagles a boost around the basket. She’s a six-footer who has an Achilles tendon issue but also has the size and athleticism to provide some good relief in the post.
Oddly, one of the players the Eagles will have to contend with in the game in Laredo is a Nebraskan. Tantashea Giger is a 5-7 senior from Lincoln who poured in 21 points against the Eagles a year ago when she sank five 3-pointers.
She had attended a Kansas community college before making the switch to Texas A&M International.
International was 3-26 a year ago. Kingsville finished at 8-20.