Wildlife experts will tell you that keeping a bird caged is a bad thing.
Bad for host Mt. Edgecumbe that is, as the Thunder Mountain Falcons girls have been cooped up for seven days without a game and are anxiously awaiting tonight’s game at the Lady Braves home.
“This is the longest break we have had all season,” TMHS coach Tanya Nizich said. “It was nice to have that time off to work on our weaknesses.”
The Falcons (2-10) suffered a 52-47 Thunderdome loss to Mt. Edgecumbe (7-3, 4-2) on January 27. Fouls and turnovers were a major contributing factor in that contest. The Falcons sent the Lady Braves to the charity stripe 24 times and had a dozen turnovers.
“Defensively, we need to do a better job with picking up in transition,” Nizich said. “And we need to do a better job on communicating and not getting beat down the court. I have really liked our intensity and energy in practice lately and I hope we can carry it over to this next set of games.”
The Falcons are slowing cutting down on the turnover situation and are starting to understand the options available when facing half and full court presses. They are also starting to block out better on the defensive end.
“For the games this weekend we all need to block out each and every time,” TMHS junior guard Sarah Morris said. “We need to hustle back on defense with lots of communication.”
The Falcons have shown a lot of heart and hustle through their roster and none more so than junior forward Emily Winters.
Winters was selected by coaches and media as the Player of the Week for efforts against Mt. Edgecumbe and in the Lady T-Bird Classic in Anchorage previously.
Winters is in her first year playing for the Falcons, sitting out last season due to a knee injury.
“She has been around the program,” Nizich said. “And she was very much involved on the side lines while awaiting her surgery. I coached Emily as an eighth-grader in the Hoop Time program. It was fun to coach her then and it is very nice to see her back out on that court now.”
Winters had patella groove realignment and reconstruction surgery last summer.
“Basically they cut off my shin bone and realigned it,” Winters said. “Then routed out a bigger patella groove and replaced some ligaments. My knee is doing great now. I was really nervous that it was going to dislocate again and I wouldn’t ever be able to play but if feels stronger than ever.”
Winters has a final doctor’s appointment this coming summer. She spent the months after surgery working hard in physical therapy and rediscovering her basketball conditioning skills.
“This year has been really fun,” Winters said. “It’s my first year back and my first year playing varsity. It is definitely a more intense season then I have ever experienced but I am loving every second of it. Against Mt. Edgecumbe I think we need to play like we did in the T-Bird Classic, we need to come out strong as a team, have fewer turnovers and focus on blocking out.”
Winters also holds a current GPA of 3.87.
“She is your perfect example of a student athlete,” Nizich said. “She brings a lot of positive energy to each practice and every game. She is smart on the court and off.”
Junior Jonelle Staveland is leading the Falcons in scoring with 13 points per game, freshman Ashley Young 10 points, and the remaining roster is balanced. Young averages five rebounds, senior Shale Kibby four, Staveland and Winters over two. Staveland, selected to the Lady T-Bird all tourney team, leads in assists and is tied for steals with Young. Young, classmate Cheyanne Ekis and senior Kinsey Marshall lead in blocked shots.