Maiden Madness: Ronan girls step up hoops game
A summer playing “everywhere they could get a basketball in their hands” has molded the Ronan High School Maidens into a closer, stronger basketball team, now 5-1 on the season, with their only loss coming from Northwest A conference leader Frenchtown.
Maidens head coach Clayton Curley said the summer games and 3-on-3 tournaments have given the team more confidence and experience after a rebuilding year last year. It was also Curley’s first year coaching the Maidens.
“The biggest difference,” Curley said of this season, “is the switch from a zone defense to a man-to-man defense.”
He added that the Maidens have the power players to run the defense.
“We’re quicker than we were, and we have a good inside game,” he said.
Curley named Raymi Clairmont, Aspen Jore, Ashleigh Lynch, Alaina Madsen and Courtney Taylor as some of his power players.
The team voted on captains and the co-captains are Courtney Clairmont, Raymi Clairmont and Lynch. Courtney and Lynch are seniors, while Raymi is a junior, and the girls are the spiritual and emotional leaders of the team, Curley said.
Courtney’s goal is to go to state, and she said the team has a newfound intensity this year.
Raymi agreed, but she also wants the Maidens to win more games and play as a team.
The difference between last year’s team and this year’s is chemistry, according to Lynch. All team members have the same goal, trying to get a win instead of individual stats.
The girls and Curley think Deer Lodge is the team to beat in their conference, followed by Florence. A fired-up Maidens team beat Florence in triple overtime Dec. 14, 74-69, and went on to beat Eureka 57-52 Dec. 15 before picking up another conference win over Loyola Dec. 18, 39-34.
Then the Maidens met valley rival Polson on Dec. 21, where the Ronan team pulled out their first win over the Lady Pirates since 2007 in a nail-biter that ended with Ronan on top 36-32. The non-conference game commands plenty of bragging rights, since most of the kids know each other, Curley noted.
The RHS girls got a break from games until Friday, Jan. 4, when they travel to Deer Lodge to face the Lady Wardens.
Curley said, “I want the team to have the success of winning, coming together and actually winning some games.”
Freshman coach Shelly Buhr and assistant coach Cameron Barber join Curley in coaching the Maidens. Buhr noted that the squad is dedicated and spent a lot of time over the summer playing basketball.
“This group of girls enjoys each other; many of them play other sports together,” Buhr said.
Another good thing about the 2012-13 Maiden basketball team is the way senior Lynch has stepped up to the plate as a defensive player, Curley said.
It’s always good to send the seniors off on a good basketball season, and Curley would like to see some of the Maidens squad go on to play college ball, maybe on scholarship.
Curley, who teaches health and P.E., played a year of college hoops for Miles City Community College before transferring to Montana State University-Bozeman to play football, so he knows about college-level athletics.
His goal for the Maidens is not to be in “the toilet bowl,” which means the team would have to win a play-in game to make divisionals.
“When I took this job, I didn’t think I’d like girls’ basketball so much,” Curley admitted. “But these girls are disciplined, smart; just about all of them are 3.0-and-above students, and easy to coach.”
Ronan 36, Polson 32
Ronan 11 7 6 12 – 36
Polson 6 7 6 13 – 32
RONAN – Raymi Clairmont 9, Ashleigh Lynch 2, Courtney Clairmont 9, Alaina Madsen 2, Courtney Taylor 4, Aspen Jore 10.
POLSON – Mackenzie Banner 9, Malia Hamel 6, Anna DiGiallonardo 9, Breanna Harrison 2, Hallie Hovenkotter 6.