Spearfish girls adjust early, often

Spearfish’s Cora Tobin, goes up for two during a varsity girls’ basketball game           last season. Pioneer file photo

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SPEARFISH — Rampant injuries and illnesses forced the Spearfish girls’ basketball team to continually adjust during a recent 3-17 campaign.

“We had over 100 games missed by different kids at different levels,” Spearfish varsity head coach Eric Lappe said. He added the illnesses and injuries kept the team from reaching anticipated levels.

“On varsity, we had a lot of turnover and moved a lot of people around,” Lappe said. He estimated the varsity employed eight or nine different starting lineups.

Two players missed the entire season because of injuries. Senior Kennedy Kaitfors played only three games.

Lappe said players stepped up every time and did not have anyone express doubts they could take on new roles. 

“It was challenging; it was tough,” Lappe said. “Hopefully, it will be good for us in the long run.”

Spearfish did not have a lot of varsity experience going into the season. Lappe said he saw good things from different players during summer workouts.

“We thought we would have some struggles early on,” Lappe said. “Once the injuries kind of started, they just kind of cascaded from there.”

The Spartans fell 48-44 to Yankton in their opener. An 80-70, double-overtime triumph over Pierre improved Spearfish’s record to 1-3.

Spearfish endured an 11-game slide before defeating Custer 58-49. A 72-64 overtime loss to Douglas preceded a 53-33 win over Hot Springs; the Spartans’ record was now 3-15.

Setbacks to Rapid City Central and Rapid City Stevens ended the season. Spearfish did not qualify for the class AA SoDak 16 event.

“I thought we had pretty steady progression throughout the year,” Lappe said. 

Ninth-graders Hannah Schoon and Stella Marcus played many minutes. Lappe said juniors Bella Reid and Ashtyn Reiners did some really good things, while sophomore Erin Rotert secured a rotation spot by season’s end.

Hanna Lagher also improved a lot, according  to Lappe. The foreign exchange student from Sweden started as a basketball novice and played on the C squad. 

The team learned how to put points on the board by season’s end, according to Lappe. He said that relaxed players on defense.

On-court highlights for Lappe started with that triumph over Pierre. 

Lappe also pointed to the development of many team members who had not played a lot the preview season. They included Marcus, who was the first ninth-grade starter Lappe has had during his coaching career.

“Our seniors did a great job of keeping everyone paddling in the same direction,” Lappe said. “They made sure everybody was trying to get better every day, pushing each other, and understanding the bigger picture.”

Jalyn Carter, Mikayla Tracy, Cora Tobin, and Kaitfors represented the senior class. 

What does Lappe see in the program’s future?

“The upside to all the injuries is that we got to look at a lot of different kids,” Lappe said. He hopes the team may build on what it achieved at season’s end at carry it into next season.

“I think we have a bunch of young kids that are hungry. They want to play,” Lappe said. “The future looks good, but we have to keep putting in the work and putting in the time. It’s not going to come easy.”

More consistent shooting is the biggest goal for next season, according to Lappe. 

He thanked assistant coaches Bryan Heck, Jaime Bentley, Jen Reiners, and Jamie Schroeder for their efforts this season.

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