Competitive Lady Cats look for younger players to step up

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(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) Senior Ellie Kiebert drives down the court during a scrimmage at practice last week.

When you enter Clark Fork High School during any given weekday after school hours, it’s difficult not to hear the girls basketball team practicing.

One word encapsulates the noise — intense.

“We have a lot of aggression,” senior Ellie Kiebert said. “Yesterday, I got decked in the face by a freshman on accident.”

The athletes are so locked into practice that it would be easy for someone to walk into the gym and think a game with a trip to state on the line was being played.

The communication is defining and the action in the post is hard to miss when someone ends up on the hardwood.

Despite the intensity, freshman Emily Myers said the Lady Cats never cross the line and enjoy the competition.

“When we scrimmage we’re always giving it our all so no matter what we’re doing its intense but it’s fun,” she said.

The Lady Cats are coming off a 7-6 season last year which saw them fall in the first round of the district tournament to Genesis Prep.

Clark Fork will be without six seniors from that team this season including last year’s North Star League MVP Brooke Stevens, who is now playing at North Idaho College.

Head coach Jordan Adams admitted it will be tough to replace the production of those seniors.

“We don’t have the depth we’ve had in the past and I think as far as league goes that’s kind of the going rate in our league,” she said. “You know we’re the smallest of the small in the state and you’re going to have good years and you’re going to have bad years ... you’re going to have years where you only have six players. Whatever hand your dealt with you just do your best and work with it but I feel like our program is pretty consistent.”

But surprisingly Adams isn’t worried about there being a lack of leadership on the team despite the mass exodus of experience because of one player — Kiebert.

Adams said Kiebert became a vocal leader on the team last season and doesn’t have a problem telling someone on the team when they are out of line, which has made coaching this year’s squad easier for her.

“Its been a breeze, there hasn’t been any issues,” she said. “There’s no conflict.”

And the other two seniors on the team have followed in Kiebert’s footsteps and taken up a leadership role.

“It’s a cake walk when you have kids that want to do it,” Adams said.

The Lady Cats have two freshmen on the team this season — Paige Valliere and Emily Myers.

It’s early but Adams thinks both have the potential to be stars on the team in the future.

Myers said making the transition to playing in high school has been made easier by her teammates who have helped show her the ropes and welcomed her with open arms.

Myers said she plans on doing anything the team needs to win this season and isn’t afraid to step in the spotlight.

The Lady Cats only have 10 players on their roster but toward the end of the season Adams expect her team to be deep.

“[The younger players] are going to get plenty of playing time,” Adams said. “There’s going to be games where we’re going to treat it like a JV game because we can.”

Adams team is built on defense and fundamentals. In fact, Adams loves defense and if her players aren’t fundamentally sound, let’s just say it doesn’t make her happy.

“If they’re not right, they make my eye twitch,” she said.

Kiebert’s goal is to lead the team to a North Star League title.

Adams said the Lady Cats are capable of reaching state, but it takes a certain mentality that she believes her players can develop.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up playing in districts,” Adams said. “Right now, it could go either way.”

Clark Fork opens the season 6 p.m. Tuesday at Priest River.

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