In sports it is not about how you start, but how you finish. For the Elma High School girls basketball team the year didn’t start exactly how coach Lisa Johnson had wanted on the scoreboard against Black Hills with the Lady Eagles losing 64-54 on Nov. 4. Elma may have come up short in its first game, but Johnson said the Lady Eagles showed they have what it takes to finish the season with their fifth straight Evergreen 1A League championship.
“We didn’t execute rebounding really well tonight and that is just because we are more guard laden than post laden,” Johnson said. “They are a 2A school from a very tough league and we played really well tonight. I’m excited for where the direction is going.”
The Lady Eagles fell behind Black Hills early trailing 23-14 at the end of the first quarter. Elma stormed back in the second and cut the lead to four points at half, but the Lady Eagles were held to five points in the third quarter and Black Hills took control.
Without a dominate post player this season, the Lady Eagles will look to speed up the tempo of the game. The change is a return to Johnson’s roots of the teams she played on at Elma of presses and points in transition.
“We’re young, but we’re fast,” Johnson said. “We have so much speed and watching you can see our athleticism and our speed is great. The speed and just the transition aspect of running and pressing, that is my favorite stuff and I got a group of girls who have the speed and the talent to do both and it is going to be a lot of fun to watch them progress this year.”
Senior Brooke Goldsmith, who led the Lady Eagles with 12 points against Black Hills, and senior Sydney Smythe are the two returning starters from last season. Along with the two senior guards, 6-foot-1 junior Izzy Cristelli will likely see the most time in the paint. As for the rest of her lineup, Johnson said the starters have been changing from day to day.
“Right now, it is so balanced I really can’t tell you who that is going to be,” Johnson said. “It has been changing every practice. Usually. when you have a substitution, you might lose something, but we don’t. Our bench is very, very strong and that is something that not many teams can say. This is the deepest team I’ve had as far as just 12 strong varsity basketball players that can come in and play for you.”
Elma had nine girls score against Black Hills, with six players scoring six or more points.
While the Eagles may have all the makings of a great athletic team on paper, Johnson said it isn’t going to be an easy road to another league championship.
“There isn’t anything that is just going to be a runaway,” Johnson said. “You have to work for every win that you get. I think if they come together as a complete team and the chemistry that they can develop and if you can achieve those things, you can achieve anything.”