Young Valkyrie team focused on growth

For the Eagle | December 30, 2020 2:00 AM

The Valkyries basketball squad will be looking to pick up where they left off last season as they open the season at home against Stillwater Christian Saturday.

Bigfork is returning six players from last year’s team that went 14-11 en route to a state tournament appearance.

Head coach Cortnee Gunlock will have six players returning from last season’s varsity squad which finished third at the district tournament and second at divisionals, but will also fill half of this year’s roster with freshmen.

“We will be starting from scratch with a lot of things this year where in the past we were just implementing our offense and defense at this point. It seems like things are going slowly, but we have the extra practice time this year and that is helpful,” Gunlock said. “Half the team will be freshmen this year, but I am excited about this class and the future of this team.”

The Valkyries will feature just two seniors this season, Audrey Buenz, who was fourth on the team in steals last season, and Quinn Nissen, who missed last season with a knee injury.

Also back from last year’s squad is junior Emma Berreth, the team’s second leading scorer a year ago, as well as sophomores Scout Nadeau and Madison Chappuis who saw significant playing time as freshmen last season.

The team will also feature a pair of new faces this year in juniors Lexi and Arianna Saari, twin sisters who transferred from Billings.

Practices for the team began December 7, but games were delayed until the new year due to COVID concerns, giving Gunlock time to implement some changes for the upcoming season.

“We are going to really push to be a transition team this year so we don’t wind up in half-court battles with teams that are bigger than us,” she said. “We have speed this year and every player I am going to put on the court will be able to dribble the ball. We will also look to press more this year and take advantage of our speed and depth.”

The opening games against Stillwater are scheduled to begin with freshmen at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by the junior varsity at 3:30 and varsity at 5 p.m.