For the second year in a row, the Lead-Deadwood High School girls basketball team is off to a good start. Heading into this weekend's contests, the Lady Golddiggers have won five of seven games.
Lead-Deadwood opened the season with a 58-21 home win over Harding County Dec. 8.
"One of the things we are doing different is to get into a transition, up-tempo game," said LDHS coach Tim Hansen. "Our girls worked hard in the off-season and got us off to a good start."
Lead-Deadwood visited Newell Dec. 11 and recorded a hard-fought 49-43 victory.
"The Newell game was a test of what we wanted to do with our style of play," said Hansen. "We had too many turnovers, but made plays in crucial times."
The Lady 'Diggers faced Wyoming foes Newcastle and Sundance in the Stateline Classic in Belle Fourche Dec. 14-15. Lead-Deadwood collected a 54-37 triumph over Newcastle.
"It took us a while to get going," said Hansen. "We used a big spurt in the third quarter."
In the second day of the Border Battle, Lead-Deadwood pulled away for a 52-14 win over Sundance.
"We got off to a great start," said Hansen. "It was our best defensive performance all year."
Lead-Deadwood rolled to a 55-30 win over Bennett County Dec. 20. "Bennett County has a lot of strong kids. They are a physical ballclub," said Hansen. "We executed our full-court defensive game."
Sturgis Brown snapped the Lady 'Diggers five-game winning streak, posting a 44-29 win Dec. 21. "We thought we were ready for their (Scoopers) physicality." said Hansen. "A couple of our players got into early foul trouble. From the second quarter on, we held our own against a good Class AA club."
Lead-Deadwood returned to action Tuesday after an 18-day break, dropping a 56-32 road decision to Douglas.
The LDHS roster features four seniors and six juniors. The senior class includes Carly Mehlberg, Alexis Morrison, Abiah Morrison and Kaali Allmendinger.
Junior class members are Anna Campbell (team's leading scorer and rebounder), Natalie Janssen, Blake Mehlberg, Hannah Campbell, Rebecca Groeger and Raygan Mattson.
Carly Mehlberg, a five-foot, six-inch guard, is a three-year starter and enters her fourth year on the varsity. She has played the sport since third grade.
"I like that it is a team sport, but you can show your individual talent. I feel defense is my role," Mehlberg said.
Abiah Morrison and Alexis Morrison, both 5-5 forwards, began playing basketball in the fourth grade.
"It keeps me busy and I like playing with teammates," said Abiah. "Getting rebounds and boxing out is my role.
"I like being able to play with my friends," said Alexis. My role is to keep the team up (mentally) and come into the game and contribute."
Allmendinger, a 5-6 forward, is a three-year varsity performer. She started playing seven years ago.
"I like the competition," she said. Basketball is more of a contact sport than volleyball.
"All four of the seniors played volleyball in the fall," Allmendinger added. "My role is to show the younger girls enthusiasm and help my teammates."
The four LDHS seniors agreed the team got off to a good start, but it faces a tough stretch of games.
"Everyone said it was going to be St. Thomas More, Belle Fourche and Sturgis in the Black Hills Conference," said Hansen. "St. Thomas More exerts a mental pressure, as well as a physical pressure on teams.
"I think we're in the next level of teams with Hill City and Red Cloud. We want to be a team that pushes you competitively," Hansen said.
"Sometimes it's a numbers game for us. We are the second smallest school in the Black Hills Conference."
Lead-Deadwood plays two "Throwback Games" this season.
The Lady 'Diggers visit St. Thomas More Jan. 15. More will wear St. Martins' Ravens uniforms, while Lead-Deadwood will don Deadwood Bears uniforms. LDHS hosts Bison Feb. 9, and will be dressed in Deadwood Bears apparel.