Tigers face tough start to girls basketball season

Jason Jung hopes to have some surprises in store for his foes when the New England Tigers start off their season Nov. 30.

That is when the Tigers host the defending state champions from Grant County.

By Brad Mosher

The Herald

He has just two seniors- Elizabeth Kaufman and Takoda Westling.

But he is loaded with freshmen and juniors, so when the Coyotes come calling in New England at the end of the month, the coach is hoping to catch the champions unaware.

“Kaufman is the leader of the team,” the coach said Monday.

But when it comes to scoring, the coach is looking to Molly Rayhorn and Shelly Kathrein to take advantage of the opportunities.

“We are going to be very athletic. The freshmen and sophomores are very athletic,” the coach said, citing the team’s strength going into the 2018-2019 season.

He also stressed that the roster hasn’t really been set, giving the younger players the opportunity to fight for a berth on the varsity squad.

The Tigers finished the 2017-2018 season with a 12-8 record, but they have already be picked to drop to tenth in the standings in Region 7 play.

When Grant County comes to town, the Tigers will be starting with a squad that lost four players to graduation a year ago.

One advantage the new team has is the quality of the veteran players who can show the younger ones how to play at the varsity level.

Grant County is a co-op team built from three schools Carson/Elgin-New Leipzig.

The Coyotes made a 14-0 run to climb to the state championship a year ago.

Grant County had a 12-5 record through mid-January.

Then the Coyotes started their streak with wins over Solen, Killdeer, Flasher, Washburn, Underwood, Standing Rock, Lemmon, Solen, Garrison and Shiloh Christian.

In the playoffs, the Coyotes edged Kindred by three points (60-57), Medina/ Pingree-Buchanan by two pints (49-47) and Killdeer by nine points (53-44).

But the team coming to New England will look different. Gone is Taylor Roehl, the tournament MVP as a senior.

Gone also are Alexis Bentz and Cassie Pierson, lost to graduation. The three players were all 5-foot-10 or taller.

The Coyotes will still have a height advantage that the Tigers will have to overcome with defense, Jung explained.

The team lost three of its tallest players from the 2017-2018 squad to graduation – Jordan Kass, Hailee Kuske and Paige Ehlis.

The game against the Coyotes will start at 5:30 p

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