The Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team is looking to make it back to the national tournament for a third-straight year as they officially opened practice on Monday.
The Cougar women won the Region IX title two years ago and earned an at-large berth to the national tournament last season. Head coach Chad Gibney will beginning his third year as head coach after taking over the reigns as an interim head coach in January 2017.
This season will be a different type of team for the Cougars as they feature a talented team with more height. WNCC started official practice on Monday with 11 players on roster, but it is a talented roster.
“We are super talented this year I feel,” Eva Langton, one of the two returners from a year ago, said. “I think every one of us is capable of shooting the ball which is definitely a head of last year. Everyone is capable of playing and we will be competing for our spots.”
Langton, one of four sophomores on the team, said the first practice went well.
“The opening practice went really good,” Langton, a 6-foot-1 wing player from New Zealand, said. “All the girls brought a lot of energy and good productivity. They just worked really hard.”
Langton and Merle Wiehl are the only returning players back from a year ago. The other two sophomores are transfers in Andrijana Reljic, a 6-foot-3 center from Northwest Florida State College, and Allysah Boothe, a 5-5 guard from Lincoln College.
The other seven players are talented freshmen. They include Tishara Morehouse, a 5-3 guard from Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Kolby Underwood, a 6-0 guard from Chicago; Anyssia Gibbs, a 5-11 guard from Apple Valley, California; R’Manie Pulling, a 5-7 guard from Denver; Yuliyana Valcheva, a 6-1 forward from Sofia, Bulguria; Taylor Joplin, a 6-1 guard from Garden Plain, Kansas; and Yaidelis Torres, a 6-1 forward from Tuncos, Puerto Rico.
Langton said practices are a little different this year because they are basically a new team with just returners, but things are progressing well.
“They [practices] are a little bit different this year because we have to start from the bottom again because we are so a very new team,” she said. “We have to establish all the plays that we run as a team, but the girls are picking it up.”
WNCC will practice this week before competing in its first pre-season jamboree on Saturday in Ft. Collins, Colorado. WNCC will have three other pre-season games after that, including Oct. 20 at the Lawrence, Kansas, Jamboree, a scrimmage Oct. 26 against Western State in Gunnison, Colorado; and a home scrimmage against Metro State on Oct. 28.
WNCC will open the season November 2-3 at the Pizza Hut Classic in Liberal, Kansas, when they face Seward County Community College and Garden County Community College.
Langton said the team has a positive outlook for the season.
“The outlook is good for this year,” she said. “We have good ball control. We just have to keep working hard in the pre-season and keep motivated and keep on track and we should be good.”