Remaining regular season schedule for the Little Snake River Valley School (Wyo.) boys varsity basketball team:
• Feb. 11 — Encampment at LSRV
• Feb. 12 — at Hanna
• Feb. 15 — Hayden at LSRV
• Feb. 19 — Saratoga at LSRV
Sitting in the locker room after taking third place in the 2010 Wyoming 1A State Tournament, Little Snake River Valley School (Wyo.) boys varsity basketball coach Paul Prestrud looked at his players.
Playing in a consolation game, Prestrud said, is tough. Even if you win, you know you can’t be the best.
“I looked at every single player and asked them what we can do to get better,” he said. “We were young and returned every starter this year, so we knew we had a chance to be back in the same position.”
Coming into this season, the Rattlers worked on defense, the aspect the entire team thought needed improvement, Prestrud said.
With four games remaining before the regional tournament, the Rattlers sit at 18-0 and have a realistic shot of finishing the season undefeated and with the state title they fell short of last season.
“We have played really well this year and have been tested a few times by good teams,” Prestrud said. “Other games, we still played our best and ran away with the game.”
The Rattlers played St. Stephens on Jan. 14, the team that beat them in the regional tournament last season and is currently ranked second in the Wyoming 1A division.
LSRV won by 13 points.
Besides defense, Prestrud said he attributes a lot of his team’s success to the intensity they play with every game.
“We have been playing for three months and the guys still come out with the same intensity they did at the beginning of the season,” he said. “We have stayed together and stayed focused on what we need to do to win.”
The Rattlers will play Encampment tonight and Hanna on Saturday in their last two Three Trails Conference games. They host Hayden and Saratoga next week.
If they finish the regular season undefeated, the Rattlers will be the number one seed in the 1A West Regional Tournament on Feb. 24.
Prestrud said the same intensity his team plays with in games can’t always be seen in practices.
The Rattlers have only eight players on their squad, so scrimmaging and running offensive and defensive sets are not always possible, Prestrud said.
The solution: former LSRV players come to practice to give the current team bodies to scrimmage against.
“About six to eight former players, many who have won state championships, help us with running our offense and defense,” Prestrud said. “They are older, bigger and stronger and they show us what we can do.”
Occasionally, Prestrud said, when his team scrimmages the alumni for an entire eight-minute quarter, the alumni win.
“Being able to scrimmage allows my team to see there is more than just shooting in the game of basketball,” he said. “We are able to box out and do other drills we can’t do with just eight players.”
It’s not easy to have an unblemished record, Prestrud said, but having five starting players who can all score helps.
“We have five guys that can lead the team,” he said. “Any team we play has to be aware of all five players, which allows us to open our offense up.”
Prestrud said another team at the school has helped his players realize what they will have to do to win a state championship — the LSRV football team.
The six-man football team went undefeated in the fall and won the Wyoming six-man football state title.
“These guys learned after playing on the football team what it takes to win a state title,” he said. “They know they have to play their best every game.
“We have six or eight games before the state tournament, but our team will be really disappointed if we’re not in the championship game.”
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