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Lady Braves to test depth against 4A’s best

◆ Star Valley plays #2 East and #3 Central to begin season.

It’s a topic that will likely be one of note for the entire season for Star Valley’s girls. How many varsity players will be available to the coaching staff on any given night?

At least as far as the first weekend of competition is concerned, the answer appears to be: Not many.

When the Lady Braves take on Cheyenne East at 4 p.m. this Friday night at Rock Springs Junior High, the six identified varsity players will be logging heavy minutes against a Thunderbird squad that does not have that same challenge.

“Cheyenne East is deep,” said head coach Kade Erickson. “Their JV group was good. When they did the polls they were #2 and Central is #3 so we’re going to play two of the top teams right out the gate and then next week we play Thunder Basin at Flaming Gorge so we’ll see the top three teams in the first two weekends.”

The Lady Braves do return quality varsity experience in players such as McKenna Brog, Addie Butler, Brierly Battleson and Emma Thomson as well as bench players such as Libbi Erickson and Amber Milne. Emri Jenkins also figures to be in the mix but there figures to be points where players will be thrown into the fire. The loss of Paige Nield to injury will likely be particularly felt this weekend as the team figures out who they are.

“Right now we’re still trying to make adjustments,” Erickson said. “We aren’t very deep until we decide who’s coming up from the JV to help us. Our five seniors are going to be giving us a lot of minutes. We don’t have a lot of height so we’re looking at defensive transition and trying to put pressure on the ball and trying to dig-in one-on-one. Or make throwing in some zone so we can play defense as a group more than individuals.”

The Lady Braves are no strangers to adversity and battled through a trying season last year to earn a trip to the State Tournament. This year figures to require a similar effort.

“To be honest, we’re just trying to figure out where we’re at,” Erickson continued. “Our girls are quick and fast but we’ll find out where we stand this weekend. We have a lot of unknown answers.”

Erickson emphasized that his squad is ready to represent and battle this season.

“Overall I have been so impressed with their work ethic.” he concluded. “They are so coachable.”

SVI Media will be covering the Lady Braves’ in Rock Springs as they take on Cheyenne East at 4 p.m. on Friday and Cheyenne Central at 12 noon on Saturday.