Hoops tradition thriving at Little Snake River Valley | CraigDailyPress.com

Hoops tradition thriving at Little Snake River Valley

Morgan Wille

Three years ago, five Little Snake River Valley School girls took the court for a varsity basketball game.

There were no substitutes sitting on the bench, but not because players were injured or ineligible, rather because there were only five girls on the team.

In the two previous seasons, head coach Jodi Stanley was lucky to have two more players, other than her starting five.

"Practice was hard because there was no down time," Stanley said. "No lines for drills, no slow periods."

In her 26th season as the Little Snake River Valley School's girls basketball coach in Baggs, Wyo., Stanley now has 21 girls on her roster, including freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors.

The roster size allows the coach to put together a junior varsity squad against schools that also have enough players.

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"We are able to split the team up and have some conditioning while others do pass drills (during practice)," she said. "They are not in as good of shape as the smaller teams, but they still go hard."

With a freshman class of fewer than 20 students, Stanley said she had seven freshmen try out for the team.

"Our freshmen get to play with our seniors, so they have to step up their game," she said. "It is a great thing for the team and I think it creates a lot of team camaraderie."

The team returned five starters from last season's six-player starting rotation, and have started this season with a 7-2 record.

Stanley credits the fast start to good defense and solid shooting.

"Our defense has caused problems while running presses and zones, and have created opportunities for our offense," she said. "We have shot 40 percent from the field, which I am real pleased with."

The returning starters, Stanley said, have provided good leadership and set the tempo for younger players.

Still, Stanley said the team is only shooting 47 percent from the free throw line, which is a concern, and needs to grab more defensive rebounds and limit turnovers.

"In the two games we have lost, we gave up too many second-chance points by not grabbing rebounds," she said. "We need to take care of the ball on both sides.

"We are averaging 18 turnovers a game, so we need to figure out how to limit the turnovers and play our style of basketball."

The team's first game after the holiday break is Jan. 7 at home against Three Trails Conference rival Cokeville High School.

Stanley said the team must be sharp coming back from break, or they may drop an early conference game.

"Cokeville is probably one of our toughest conference games this year," she said. "Games are definitely more fun than practice, but the girls still need to play hard.

"There is a tradition here, and we all take pride in being competitive year after year."

Selfless basketball

A year after finishing third in the 1A Wyoming High School State Basketball Tournament, Little Snake River Valley High School boys varsity basketball head coach Paul Prestrud is looking for ways to improve.

"We had a 26-3 record last year and only lost to teams that played in state championship games," Prestrud said. "We have to keep asking ourselves how we can get better."

With a roster of only eight players, some coaches may find it difficult, but not Prestrud.

"We have basically the same starting team as last year," he said. "Some younger kids looked to try out, but probably weren't going to break through those eight players."

Starting the season with a 9-0 record, Prestrud, who is in his seventh year as head coach, said he has been privileged with the boys he gets to coach.

"Just like our football team, we have a good set of really good athletes," he said. "We have good basketball players who have been playing together since third or fourth grade."

With a smaller group to work with, Prestrud said the team's practices go fast.

"During practice, we run drills without having people standing in line and waiting," he said. "Most teams have an eight-man rotation, so all eight guys on our team get to play."

While the boys basketball team also prepares to host conference rival Cokeville on Jan. 7, Prestrud said he is looking more at the positive aspects from the start of the season rather than the negative.

"The players on our team are not selfish and they pass the ball really good," he said. "We have a lot of speed, and that is something you can't coach, but the players are blessed with it."

With all eight players committed to the game, Prestrud said his players work hard at everything they do and make his job easy.

Before the season started, the team went to a basketball camp in Salt Lake City, where they competed against high schools with more than 1,500 students. Little Snake River Valley School has less than 100 students.

"The camps were good competition for the team, and they wanted to be there," Prestrud said. "I think anyone could coach this group of guys."


Little Snake River Valley (Wyo.) girls varsity basketball schedule for January:

• Jan. 7 — Cokeville at LSRV

• Jan. 8 — at Big Piney

• Jan. 11 — Hayden at LSRV

• Jan. 15 — Farson-Eden at LSRV

• Jan. 21 — at Saratoga

• Jan. 22 — Rangley at LSRV

• Jan. 28 — H.E.M. at LSRV

• Jan. 29 — at Encampment

Little Snake River Valley (Wyo.) boys varsity basketball schedule for January:

• Jan. 7 — Cokeville at LSRV

• Jan. 8 — at Big Piney

• Jan. 14 — St. Stephens at LSRV

• Jan. 15 — Farson-Edon at LSRV

• Jan. 21 — at Saratoga

• Jan. 22 — Rangley at LSRV

• Jan. 28 — H.E.M. at LSRV

• Jan. 29 — at Encampment