Billings Central Rams
Record last season: 17-6
Coach: Jeff Malby (4th season)
Returning starters: Sammy Elliott, 5-11, Sr., wing; Allie Lucas, 5-5, Jr., guard; Justyn Juhl, 5-10, Jr., post.
Other key players: Hadley Ryan, 5-11, Sr., post; Baylee Hadley, 5-9, Jr.; Erika Kuehn, 5-7, Jr.; Melissa Koerber, 5-11, Jr.; Mariah Wittman, 5-8, Fr.
Noteworthy: Elliott averaged 4.8 points per game and 2.3 assists per game. … Lucas was an honorable mention selection for the Eastern A and averaged 6.7 points as well as 3.0 assists. ... Juhl averaged 7.4 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. … Malby is 50-22 at Central. The Rams have placed at state (first, third and first) in each of his three previous seasons.
Coach Malby says: “We’ve had some very, very, very good practices. I hate to say mid-season form, not so much execution-wise, but get-after-it wise and focus. I don’t like to single out all these teams we’ve had, but this fourth year here, we’re all settling in a little bit, and it might be the most sustained focused team so far that I’ve had.”
Glendive Lady Red Devils
Record last season: 14-8
Coach: Jason Amundsen (2nd season, 14-8)
Returning starters: Jordan Johnson, 5-8, Sr., guard.
Other key players: Alexa Hubbard, 5-7, Sr., guard/forward; Lindsay Tennant, 5-1, Sr., guard; Brooke Herring, 6-3, Sr., forward/center; Ali Silvernale, Sr., guard; Morgan Opp, 5-5, Sr., guard; Austyn Copp, Jr., guard/forward; Annie Hill, Jr., guard; Meriah Taylor, Jr., gurad/forward; Sara Temple, Jr., forward; Teia Knutson, So., guard; Mariz Zimdars, So., forward/center..
Coach Amundsen says: “This team has put in a lot of hard work and is looking forward to a competitive season.”
Record last season: 8-12
Coach: Mark Albert (5th season)
Returning starters: Taylor Goligoski, 5-8, So., guard.
Other key players: Marie Feldmann, 5-8, Sr., forward/post; Sami Kratofil, 6-1, Jr., post; Mckayl Rothie, 5-2, So., guard; Kali Hayes, 5-6, So., guard; Jaylee Albert, 5-8, So., guard; Ellie Hurlbert, 5-10, So., forward/post; Brianna Huggans, 5-5, So., guard; Shaylyn Mohn, 5-6, So., forward/post; Carlie Jessop, 5-7, So., guard; Holly Hudson, 5-10, So., post; Kloie Nye, 5-2, Fr., guard.
Noteworthy: Goligoski, a second-team all-conference player last year, scored 25 points in her debut as a freshman.
Coach Albert says: "This year's team is very young, but comes with quite a bit of playing experience. The sophomores in this class played in over 90 games together at eighth-graders and played about 40 last summer with the addition of Sami Kratofil. High school varsity basketball is much different than AAU or summer ball, so it remains to be seen how well the players adjust, but we are expecting big things."
Hardin Lady Bulldogs
Record last season: 15-7
Coach: Tana Stewart (3rd season, 22-21)
Returning starters: Kanani Birdinground, 5-11, Sr., forward; Alyssa Big Man, 5-11, Jr., guard/forward; Adree Shield, 5-8, Sr., guard; Teonna Little Light, 5-7, Sr., guard. ... Hannah Ware, 5-8, Jr., forward; Chrissy Don’t Mix 5-9, Sr., guard.
Other key players: Kristan Dillon, 5-8, Sr., guard; Joire Chavez, 5-6, Sr., guard; Anna Frost, 5-8, Jr., guard.
Noteworthy: Birdinground was a second-team all-conference selection for the Eastern A. … Big Man was an honorable mention selection. ... Both Ware and Don't Mix were part-time starters a year ago.
Coach Stewart says: “We have a very experienced and driven team this year, with an incredible work ethic on both the defensive and offensive ends of the floor. Our pressure defense and versatile, fast-paced game will be very fun to watch this year.”
Laurel Lady Locomotives
Record last season: 18-6
Coach: Amber Griffith (5th season, 51-37)
Returning starters: Jayde LeFevre, 5-5, Sr., guard; Bailey Love, 5-11, Sr., post.
Other key players: Emily Smarsh, 5-7, Sr., guard; Lexi Budge, 5-9, Sr., forward; Leslie Gappa, 5-8, Sr., guard; McKenzie Cotter, 5-2, Jr., guard; Lexi Lewis, 5-3, Jr., guard; Kylie Goodson, 5-2, Jr., guard; Dalayna Christenson, 6-0, Jr., post; Allie McGrath, So., 5-7, guard; Hailey Spitzer, 5-8, So., forward; Abbie Lohof, 5-9, Fr., forward.
Noteworthy: Laurel missed a chance at winning state tournament hardware for the second year in a row with a fourth-place finish last season. The Locomotives finished second the year before. … LeFevre averaged 10 points per game last season and hit 38 percent of her 3-pointers. … Love averaged 4 points and 5 rebounds per game. … Budge was a 36 percent shooter.
Coach Griffith says: “We have solid leaders and girls who played big minutes and big roles on the last two years’ teams that played at the state tournament. These kids have been there before. They’re very focused and very determined to get back there again.”
Record last season: 3-15
Coach: Deena Wier (1st season)
Returning starters: Beth Wrigh, Sr., guard; Mikaela Olson, Jr., guard.
Other key players: Kaylie Grover, Sr., guard.
Coach Wier says: "We have a young team and we are looking for a week-by-week improvement."
Record last season: 2-18
Coach: Jon Willyerd (1st season)
Returning starters: Emily Fochs, Sr.; Macy Ricketts, Sr.,; Meagan Schoenen, So.
Other key players: Mariel Kelley, So.; Meadow Ingram, So.; Megan Hawkins, Jr.; Hailey Peterson, So.; Chelsea Woods, So.; Katie Buckley, Sr.; Callie Ellingson, Sr.; Mia Stewart, Sr.
Noteworthy: Fochs averaged 7.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game last year. ... Ricketts averaged 5.3 points and 3.1 rebounds, and Schoenen averaged 3.6 points.
Coach Willyerd says: "We have a lot of experience coming back this year with the five returning seniors. I am also very excited about our sophomores."
Miles City Cowgirls
Record last season: 7-13
Coach: Jacqui Engstrom (1st season)
Returning starters: Tori Swope, 5-6, Jr., guard; Dani Finn, 5-7, Sr., forward.
Other key players: Shaylee Singleton, 5-7, Jr., guard; Alecia Chamberlin, 5-9, So., forward; Beth Sutter, 5-9, Jr., center.
Noteworthy: Engstrom takes over for longtime coach Cary Veis, who retired following last season with a career record of 433-184 in 27 seasons at Miles City. Engstrom, who is also the school’s volleyball coach, will also have an entire new staff of assistants, as well.
Coach Engstrom says: “We are rebuilding this year, but we have a hard-working group of girls who are willing to learn We aren’t a tall team, but we are scrappy and I think we’ll be competitive.”
Record last season: 4-16
Coach: Jace Sullivan (1st season)
Returning starters: Krista Steinbeisser, 5-7, Sr., guard; Morgan Thiel, 5-6, Sr., guard; Lexi Prevost, 5-6, Jr., guard; Elise Torgerson, 5-8, Sr., guard;
Other key players: Colleen Crosby, 5-3, Sr., guard; Kortney Mayer, 5-4, So., guard; Hailey Steinbeisser, 5-3, So., guard; Daryn Wolff, 5-8, Jr., post.
Noteworthy: It was a trying season for the Eagles, who played under three head coaches last season. … Prevost was named second team all-Eastern A. … Thiel was an honorable mention selection. … Sullivan is a 2005 Sidney graduate.
Coach Sullivan says: “We’ve got a hard-working group of kids that have been through some tough times. I feel very confident about their will to work hard and turn this program around.”