Lady Tigers look to take step foward in 2022-23

LUSK – As Riki Kremers enters her second season at the helm of the Niobrara County High School girls’ basketball program, many of last year’s key figures return with experience. However, most of those key players are still just juniors or sophomores. Lily Krueger is entering her third season as a varsity player and is the lone senior on this year’s squad.

“This year, we’ll have more experience and are more comfortable with what we’re doing,” Krueger said. “There were so many younger girls, and with that year of experience, we’ll be able to do much more.”

“Hopefully, we won’t have to use her all over the floor like we did last season,” Kremers said of Krueger. “If we needed a point guard, she stepped in, if we needed someone to defend a post, she stepped in.”

Juniors Phoebe Allbright, Hattie Nelson and Melody ZumBrunnen have all improved and bring different skills to the floor. ZumBrunnen will be running the point again, while Allbright has emerged as one of Lusk’s top scoring threats. Nelson came on strong late last season and will provide a defensive presence off the bench.

“I’m looking for a lot of leadership out of these girls,” Kremers stated.

Sophomores Tessa Manning, Paige Potter and Gracie ZumBrunnen were thrown into the fire before they were ready last season but should assume bigger roles this year. While Manning will be in the backcourt, the other two are close to 6 feet and have the skills to make a difference in the paint.

“They weren’t ready last season, but they didn’t have a choice,” Kremers noted. “We’ve got a good foundation built with the girls, and I just think we keep building and moving forward.”

Newcomers to the program include junior Rachel Krein and sophomores Hannah Krein and Laney Single. Single is a transfer from Glenrock, while the Krein sisters previously played in Harrison, Nebraska. Like the trios of juniors and sophomores they join, each brings something different to the program. Kremers also has a pair of freshmen working hard to learn the system.

“Great additions to the program, they already fit in with the girls we have,” Kremers added. “We’ve been throwing a lot of new things at them, and they’re picking it up.”

Chris Smith is Kremers’ new assistant this season, while Katherine Kruse and Ben Volk will be assisting on a volunteer basis.

“I do think we’ll be improved and ready to play against anyone,” Krueger said.

The Lady Tigers open the season at the Coal Miners Classic in Wright, with games against Wright (9 a.m. Friday), Thunder Basin freshmen A squad (3 p.m. Friday) and Greybull (11 a.m. Saturday).