The Gillette College women’s basketball team doesn’t yet know whether it will play an exhibition game or run a scrimmage format when it meets Chadron State College on Sunday in Gillette.
But one thing Pronghorns’ coach Will Rider does know is that his team will run the floor when the Eagles arrive.
The game will give Pronghorn fans a chance to see the team in action as it prepares for the season. It also will give Rider and his staff another chance to see their young players in action.
“Fans will see pressure defense and a lot of full-court, fast-break basketball. Our kids are pretty strong defensively and get up and down the floor well,” said Rider, whose team scrimmaged Central Wyoming College and Casper College last weekend in Sheridan.
“This will be the first time we actually put what I consider our most consistent players together as a unit. We’ve been mixing lineups until now.”
The Pronghorns are coming off the first 20-win season in program history and return 5-foot-11 sophomore Kenosha Wright of Las Vegas. Wright came on strong at the end of last season and was the first Gillette College woman named to the Region IX all-tournament team.
“Kiki is proving to be a strong leader in this first part of the preseason,” Rider said. “She’s gotten better over the summer.”
The team also returns 5-5 guard Christina Davis of Las Vegas, but those are Rider’s only sophomores on the 12-player roster.
“There’s a good nucleus of players. But we have not put them in the combinations they will most likely be playing during the season,” Rider said.
The Pronghorns had a great recruiting class. Rider brought in McDonald’s All-American Kiela Garner, a 5-foot-7 point-shooting guard from Rich South High School in Richton Park, Ill. Garner averaged 15 points per game and also led the team in assists, steals and rebounding her senior season.
Down Under connection
Rider also recruited Freya Newton, a 5-11 guard from Palmerston North, New Zealand. Newton was selected to New Zealand’s age 18 and younger women’s national team as a sophomore and made that country’s 19 and younger women’s national tournament team as a junior.
She can play both guard and forward, and averaged a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Rider dipped into the Down Under connection to also sign 6-foot-3 Alicia Carline of Palmerston North, New Zealand. Both players were teammates at Freyburg High School.
“We have not played (Newton and Carline) together in a public forum. They have some unique and athletic combinations because they’re so used to playing together,” Rider said. “The great thing about this team is that they are very versatile.
“We can go with a big lineup or an all-quick lineup or mix and match.”
For the time being, Rider will mix and match to prepare for the Nov. 2 season opener against Salt Lake Community College at the Casper College tournament.