BLANCHARD — This was one season that Montabella’s girls basketball team would like to forget.
Yes, the Mustangs finished 10-8 this season. But they did so with many girls having to sit out nursing injuries.
“Considering all the injuries that we went through this year, it actually went very well,” Montabella coach Terry Larsen said. “We were beat up from last summer all the way to the end of the year. We started getting healthier near the end. We started out having Sarah (Miller) breaking her hand in softball and she had surgery and missed most of the summer.”
Larsen said some of the team helped lead the others through the tough times.
“Most of it we had a lot of good leadership from a core bunch of girls,” he said. “We had four girls who really held it together. Taylor (Smith) and Sarah were the juniors and Allie Ball and Gabby Larson were the seniors. They kept telling the girls ‘We can do this.’”
The Mustangs were without guards Allison Lumbert and Cheyann Frasle for most of the season, causing Smith to move from small forward to guard. Smith became an all-state honorable mention in Class C by the Associated Press.
Miller led the team in scoring and rebounding.
But there were other unsung heroes on the team, Larsen noted.
“Gabby Larson always got the difficult defensive task guarding the best player on the team,” he said. “With that, she always shut down their top player. That’s something she could do very well.
“Another one was Allie Ball. Allie was 5-5 and she always had to play the center position. She always had girls that were giants all the way up to 6-3. That’s tough to do.
“The third unsung hero would have been Krista Daws. She was in the shadows of Taylor and Sarah a lot but she had a great year but she came on to average 8.5 points a year. She went through knee surgery and a broken arm. She played through a lot of pain but she did everything we asked of her. It was her first year on varsity.”
The Mustangs will lose only two players next year, but the others have their work cut out for them.
“We have Daws back and Taylor and Sarah. I’m hoping Sarah gets all-state next year,” Larsen said. “Those three will be the core. Losing Gabby is going to hurt us so I’m hoping someone will step up for that (defense). I’m hoping for a solid team next year.”
In fact, everyone will have to step up on their own end, Larsen said.
“We have to get our defense better, we have to get more flexibility on defense,” he said. “We not only have to have a zone and a man but to have a box-and-one to shut one player down. Sarah Miller came up big on defense. She will be a post defender next year. We have to come up with another one. Maybe that’s Taylor, maybe that’s Daws. I would like to see someone come out of the woodwork.”