The Thunder Mountain High School girl’s basketball team finished last season with a 6-18 record. That number doesn’t strike the fear in opponents that it should. The Falcons graduated just two members of that team, and although alums Kinsey Marshall and Shale Kibby provided a spark, there is definitely enough kindling in the house to start a fire.
Seven quality returners are back for the young program with a vision of reaching the Region V title game.
Seniors Jonelle Staveland, Shayla Reeves and Eyerus Tingley; junior Michaela Demmert; and sophomores Sarah Morris, Ashley Young, and Siosi Tupo.
In addition the Falcons have flashy freshman newcomer Ava Tompkins.
Staveland and Tinley have been with the varsity program since its inception.
Staveland, a forward, led the Falcons in scoring last season. She is currently recovering from an ACL surgery suffered last soccer season and has been working extremely hard with getting her strength and speed back. Staveland added a season on the swim team to stay in condition and should be back in action soon.
Tingley has been the starting point guard the past three seasons and will be looked upon to become the vocal leader in the backcourt.
Reeves, a hustling forward, is by far the loudest and quickest on the court. Reeves is the emotional leader of the Falcons and gets them ready and inspired for every game.
Demmert is a guard/forward combo. Her hard work, good ball handling and a great attitude are apparent every day on the court.
Morris is another guard/forward combo who was a gutsy, or feisty, player last season. She is coming into this season stronger, quicker with her feet, and with even more determination than last year.
Young has basketball lineage in southeast. As a post she was one of the Falcons’ leading scorers last season. Coaches say she has a fresh perspective on the game with the experience gained from last year’s hoops battles.
Tupo, a guard, started playing varsity late in the season last year, and showed a very good shooting touch from the outside, as well as good court vision.
Tompkins, another guard/forward combo, also has a lot of basketball lineage from Southeast. Coaches are expecting to see her progress quickly and be a contributing factor to the Thunder Mountain squad.
Student managers are Chloe Varner and China Nunley.
The Falcons will get their first test this weekend against the visiting Sitka Wolves. Game times for Friday and Saturday are 6:15 p.m. (jv 4:30). Last season’s Wolves were tall and solid throughout the lineup. They will not be that lengthy this year but still should have a quick group of players.
Thunder Mountain often found itself in uncontrolled abandon last season and were prone to turnovers. Early practices have shown a much more mature and fundamentally solid team. Sitka will be a good test of that.
The Falcons also shot themselves out of contention in the second half of games. Again, early practices show Thunder Mountain being in much better shape physically and mentally than previous years. With the aggression they have inside and better ball control outside, these Falcons will be fun to watch.
Head coach Tanya Nizich and assistants Danielle Larson, Dan Marquart, and Joy Ribao have shown continuing improvement with each year the Falcons have existed. This season has the solid nucleus that can compete for a Region title and have enough quality left for next year as well.
Coaches Comments - We are very excited to kick off the 4th Season of Thunder Mountain Basketball! I would say turnovers were our biggest challenge. I am hoping for a big change there as our team is becoming stronger and more confident with the ball. And free throws. If you are not a good free throw shooting team then that is just one more battle besides competing with your opponent. Those are key focal points this year.