MCHS freshmen basketball players improve in 1st high school season

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Shaylyn Buckley, a Moffat County High School freshman, tries to get around a defender during the MCHS freshmen basketball tournament on Jan. 29. Norm Yoast, the girls freshmen team’s coach, and Jim Loughran, the boys freshmen team’s coach, said in their players’ first year on a high school basketball team, they try to teach fundamentals and basic basketball skills.

Everyone has to start somewhere.

Such is the case for high school basketball, as the Moffat County High School girls freshmen (C-team) basketball team wrapped up their season Feb. 15 with an 8-11 record.

“I was really proud of the girls,” head coach Norm Yoast said. “They got better every time they played.”

When middle school basketball players make the jump to high school, problems can arise, Yoast said.

“In high school, the teams play more games and have to learn sets and the play is more physical,” he said. “Plus, here in Moffat County, we play bigger schools at the high school level than the teams do in middle school.”

Still, Yoast said his team was able to adapt and learn the same new offense the varsity instituted midway into the season.

Yoast said the offense wasn’t too difficult to learn and his team was able to pick it up quickly.

“The girls started to understand being patient with the ball and not to force it and be smart,” he said. “They would set up the offense and work for a good shot.

“Toward the end of the season, they started playing the game the way it needs to be played.”

Yoast said players like Ashley Whiffen and Kelly Knez helped to make the new offense work.

“Ashley worked well with getting the ball out to the perimeter when she needed too,” he said. “Kelly made big improvements and helped move the ball well on offense.”

As a freshman basketball coach, Yoast said he really works on fundamentals with his players.

From defense to offense sets, Yoast said fundamentals are what makes a good ball player.

“I like to work on help defense, proper rebounding and setting screens,” he said. “We try to work on all the basics the girls were coached since they were little, and help build muscle memories with those basics.”

As the girls look to move up to junior varsity next year, Yoast said all his players can work on one thing in the off-season — shooting.

“All basketball players can always work on becoming better shooters,” he said. “The girls need to shoot a lot and make it a more natural thing.”

Signs of improvement

At the end of the Moffat County High School boys freshmen (C-team) basketball team’s season, head coach Jim Loughran spoke to his players on how to improve their game.

“I told all the guys that they have to make strides in the little things of the game,” Loughran said. “From pivoting to dribbling to just handling the ball, they just have to have time playing basketball.”

The Bulldogs finished the season 9-8, and despite his emphasis on the off-season, Loughran said his team made many improvements during the regular season.

“We aren’t just a freshmen team, but a C-team,” he said. “We have freshmen and sophomores who weren’t ready for junior varsity that got an opportunity to play this year.

“From the beginning of the season until the last game, the team made quite a bit of progress in fundamentals and in the game of basketball.”

When practice started in November, Loughran said his players struggled on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

“The guys had problems with shooting, passing and just the fundamentals of the game,” he said. “As the season came to an end, I feel they made quite a bit of improvement in all areas of the game.”

Whether in the paint or on the perimeter, Loughran said the team couldn’t run an offense at the start of the season.

“We had trouble running an offense without turning the ball over when the season started,” he said. “Players had problems with not being able to catch the ball in cluttered areas like the paint.”

Still, with the improvements made, Loughran said hard work in the off-season would help in the players’ transition to the junior varsity team.

“Guys need to get in the open gym and practice on their own to get better at shooting,” he said. “If there are camps, they need to go to them to become better in all areas of the game.

“Basketball players are made in the off-season more so than the regular season.”

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