Dec 06, 2022

Lady Mustangs travel to Abilene looking to start season 2-0

Posted Dec 06, 2022 5:06 PM

Little Apple Post contributor

After very different starts to their 2022-23 seasons, the Cowgirls (0-1) and Lady Mustangs (1-0) will meet in Abilene, for a future league preview on Tuesday night.

Abilene struggled in their season opener, turning the ball over 26 times in a 73-39 loss to Smoky Valley, but exhibited good effort for 32 minutes, something that has first-year head coach Shawn Hermann excited to get his team back on the floor.

“I went back and watched the film several times and our girls absolutely competed for the whole game,” Hermann said. “Smoky Valley shot lights out kudos to them, but we’re young and we’re still getting our feet wet with girls who don’t have a lot of varsity time. We did a lot of good things but we still have a lot of things to clean up.”

Across the state Rock Creek was putting the clamps on Clay Center in a low-scoring 37-27 affair that saw the Lady Mustang defense completely neutralize a good Tiger team.

“Defensively we played with good energy and intensity,” Rock Creek head coach Adam Plummer said. “Our rotation was good, our closeouts were good and our movement when the ball was in the air was good. If you’re going to hold teams to 27 points you give yourselves a chance to win every single night.”

Now, these two teams will turn their attention to one another, with one looking to establish itself with a 2-0 start, and the other looking to avoid an early two-game skid.

A few years from now, these two will find themselves competing against one another in the NCKL, but familiarity between the programs already exists in what has become an increasingly fun matchup to keep an eye on.

“I think eventually this is going to turn into a rivalry,” Hermann said. “There’s precedent for that on the boy's side with a sub-state championship game. Bringing them into the league is a positive thing, they’re well coached, they compete every night and that’s what we need.”

Despite this matchup looking potentially one-sided on early-season paper, the Lady Mustangs know that one game is not indicative of a team's true identity, and are preparing for a battle on Tuesday evening.

“They have a really good post inside in Dannefer,” Plummer said. “She’s long, strong, and jumps well. We also have to make sure that we don’t give them easy baskets, they’re going to play with high intensity, they’re going to be competitive and we have to stick to who we are and not let them take us out of that.”

Post-play is something that has graced the Abilene scouting report as well, as a young Cowgirl team gets to grips with the speed of the varsity floor.

“Rock Creek has good size and they can guard the ball as well,” Herrman said. “They bring a lot of experience and you can’t put that into a stat line. They play hard, they’re physical and we have to be ready to play.”

To have success and get back to .500, Abilene must value each possession and take better care of the basketball after coughing up 21 turnovers that led to Viking buckets in transition last week.

On the other side of the matchup, Rock Creek will look to get things going on the offensive side of the floor to complement their sturdy defensive play.

“We’re looking to improve our offensive continuity,” Plummer said. “We pride ourselves on being able to go fast but we never slowed down mentally. I’m comfortable that our kids are going to bring a good intensity every single night and if we take care of the ball and we can keep our legs we’ll be okay.”

Tip-off between the Cowgirls and Lady Mustangs is set for 6 pm at Abilene High School with the boy's game to follow at 7:30.

For continuing coverage of all four teams throughout the season stay tuned to the Salina and Little Apple Posts.